After 12 straight victories No. 4 Maryland’s undefeated season came to an end at the hands of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 73-65 on Saturday at the Xfinity Center. Entering the game both teams were top ten nationally in team defense.
The Scarlet Knights came out of the gates hot not fearing a top five opponent shooting 55 percent from the field in the first quarter. In addition to shooting 55 percent from the field, Rutgers shot 62.5 percent from behind the arc propelling them to a 28-24 first quarter lead. The duo of graduate student Charise Lewis and redshirt senior forward Stasha Carey combined for 16 first quarter points.
However, in the second quarter the Terps ramped up their defensive efforts limiting Rutgers to 29 percent shooting. In the first half for Maryland, the guard tandem of freshman Taylor Mikesell and junior Blair Watson led the way with 10 and nine points respectively. Despite the Terps improved defense at the half, they still trailed 41-36 at the half.
After struggling in the first half, junior guard Kaila Charles used her explosive offense to propel the Terps on an 8-0 run in the third quarter. Charles brought the Terps back to tie the score at 47. In addition to Charles spark on offense, Maryland once again played stifling defense holding Rutgers to 18.8 percent shooting their lowest of the game. The strong defense allowed the Terps to regain the lead 49-47 entering the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Scarlet Knights found their stroke once again shooting a much improved 54.5 percent led by freshman guard Noga Peleg Pelc. Pelc sparked the Scarlet Knights offense scoring 10 points in the final quarter, while being held scoreless the previous three. She scored eight consecutive points including two pivotal threes, while the Terps made a comeback attempt.
For the first time this season the Terps were outrebounded 38-28 a rarity for Brenda Frese’s team, which dominated the glass the 12 previous games. Freshman Shakira Austin had only seven rebounds finishing with less than 10 for only the fourth time this season. Redshirt junior guard Ciani Cryor led the Scarlet Knights with nine rebounds, despite only standing at five feet five inches tall.
Rutgers outrebounded Maryland 20-12 in the second half, while only grabbing two more rebounds than Maryland in the first half. Half of the Scarlet Knights 20 second half rebounds came on the offensive glass, while the Terps only had four offensive rebounds in the second half. Five different players combined for the 10 offensive rebounds, generating production from throughout the lineup, however, junior center Victoria Harris led Rutgers with four.
Maryland now 12-1 (1-1 Big Ten) will take on Ohio State at the Xfinity Center on Saturday at 4:00 p.m looking to get back in the win column.