Maryland junior guard Kaila Charles (5) looks for an open teammate to pass to in the Terrapin’s 89-63 victory against Nebraska at the Xfinity Center, Feb. 14. (Emily Morina/ The Left Bench)

Defensive intensity and offensive balance propel No. 7 Maryland to eighth consecutive win over Nebraska

Using her strength and finesse inside with 3:04 remaining in the third quarter, senior forward Brianna Fraser put her defender in a spin-cycle, knocking down the basket and drawing a foul. Fraser’s basket was the beginning of a 20-0 run for Maryland that lasted over five minutes, allowing No. 7 Maryland (23-2 12-2 B1G) to pull away from Nebraska (11-14 6-8 B1G) 89-63.

“I think my teammates we feed off of each other, so that when one thing goes on we escalate and keep pushing and keep going,” Fraser said. “When we’re able to do that, I feel like we’re unstoppable.”

The Terps scored in a variety of ways throughout, dominating the paint in the first half while knocking down open perimeter opportunities in the second half. Offensive balance was also a key for the Terps, with five different players finishing in double-figures. Junior guard Kaila Charles led all scorers with 22, while junior guard Blair Watson scored 17, including four threes.

Defensive intensity was a key for Maryland throughout, forcing Nebraska into 19 turnovers. Nebraska committed eight turnovers in just the first quarter, the Terps defensive intensity forced them into quick decisions and setup easy transition opportunities. Despite the Terps getting too aggressive at times, head coach Brenda Frese loved the intensity.

“I thought we were able to set the tone with our defense and our aggressiveness early, forcing Nebraska into eight turnovers when we initially started the game,” Frese said. “I loved the intensity and effort we were playing with, this team is so selfless they probably over help at times, which is something we’re trying to fix.”

Maryland’s forward duo of Fraser and freshman Shakira Austin combined for 17 first-half points, giving the Cornhuskers fits inside. While converting on its opportunities inside, the Terps struggled to defend the perimeter in the first half. Nebraska knocked down 60 percent of its three point attempts in the first half, capitalizing on the Terps defensive aggressiveness. Efficiency from the perimeter allowed Nebraska to hang around, trailing by just seven at the half.

With Nebraska continuing to battle in the later stages of the third quarter, Maryland made its run. Freshman guard Taylor Mikesell spotted up from behind the arc knocking down her 72nd three of the season extending the Terps lead to 15. After that shot, Mikesell earned a spot in the Maryland record books, hitting the most three-pointers ever by a Maryland freshman.

Mikesell would add one more for good measure, followed up by junior guard Blair Watson who knocked down a buzzer-beater from several feet behind the arc catapulting the Terps lead to 69-45 at the end of three. After taking the 24 point lead, the Terps continued to keep their foot on the gas and cruised to the 26 point victory.

“I think just being able to recollect at halftime and be able to talk about where we wanted to get too helped us,” Frese said. “I thought we were much more aggressive with our penetration in the second half.”

Maryland will now travel to Iowa City to take on No. 14 Iowa and the Big Ten’s leading scorer Megan Gustafson on Sunday at 2:00 p.m, the game will be aired on ESPN 2.