By Brandon Schwartzberg
With two minutes left in the quarter Baylor’s Jordan Lewis converted on a three point play, trimming the Maryland lead to five. The Bears forced a turnover on the next Terps’ possession, and NaLyssa Smith scored an easy layup to trim Maryland’s lead to 3.
Off the Maryland inbounds from the side, Angel Reese drove right into Smith for the old-fashioned three-point play, erupting both the Maryland bench and the fans at Xfinity Center.
“I can’t tell you how special it was to have our fans today. Obviously they’re our sixth man. It’s been so long since we’ve had a crowd like that,” coach Brenda Frese said of the impact of fans.
No. 3 Maryland women’s basketball took on No. 6 Baylor in a top-ten matchup in College Park Sunday afternoon. The atmosphere was electric, as College Park played host to the largest home crowd thus far this season.
It was a back-and-forth battle all game long, but the Terps had more firepower and managed to pull away at the end, defeating the Bears 79-76.
Maryland’s offense started slow, as the Terps struggled early to find their rhythm on offense without star guard Katie Benzan. Benzan missed the game due to an illness, pushing Shyanne Sellers into the starting lineup for the first time in her career.
“It was a really cool experience, I think my teammates were having trust in me that I could step up in big moments. It’s a lot of hardwork and dedication, especially from summer to now,” Sellers said.
Midway through the first quarter, neither team looked to gain an advantage over the other. Then, Baylor went on an 8-0 run, only needing a little over a minute to do so, to go out to a six point lead as Frese called a much needed timeout.
At the end of the first quarter, Baylor led 21-17. The Bears shot 69% from the field in the first, drastically better than Maryland’s 32%. The Terps did manage to force six turnovers, resulting in eight points on the other end, keeping them in the game as the second quarter began.
Baylor’s offense slowed down to start the second quarter, as the intensity level from Maryland on defense ramped up. The Bears only hit one of their first nine attempts from the field, as Maryland did a great job with their close-out rotations to clog the paint.
In the final three-and-a-half minutes of the quarter, Maryland outscored Baylor 12-4 as the Terps went into halftime with the lead.
A made second-chance three point basket by Chloe Bibby spearheaded the great end to the half for the Terps.
With just over two minutes remaining in the half, Ashley Owusu made a great driving layup through contact, and on the Baylor inbound, came up with a huge steal. The ball found Sellers behind the arc, who swished the basket, prompting a Baylor timeout as the fans at Xfinity Center erupted.
Maryland outscored Baylor 25-14 in the second quarter, dominating on both ends of the floor. Excellent Maryland defense held the Bears to 31% shooting in the quarter, while Maryland’s offense shot 47% from the field and 50% from deep.
At halftime, Maryland led 42-35.
The third quarter was tightly-contested, as neither team gained a big advantage over the other.
Midway through the third quarter, Diamond Miller left the game. Miller drove in the lane, missed the layup, and immediately went down in pain. Miller limped off the court and went straight to the locker room.
Bibby knocked down a huge three pointer late in the quarter, giving the Terps momentum as the fourth quarter ensued. After three, Maryland led 64-55.
After two quick Baylor baskets to start the fourth, coach Frese called timeout.
With less than a minute remaining in the fourth and Maryland up by three, Owusu missed a driving layup, and Baylor secured the rebound to gain possession. The ball wound up in the hands of a wide open Sarah Andrews, but her three bounced off the rim, and the defensive rebound from Reese secured the huge 79-76 win for the Terps.
Four Terps were in double-figures, led by Owusu’s 24 points. One one of Owusu’s baskets in the second half, she reached 1,000 career points. On the milestone, Owusu said “It means a lot, especially to do it in a game like this with so many fans. Just being able to come out and share this great accomplishment for my teammates and our fans.”
The win improved Maryland to 6-0, with a trip to the Bahamas up next as the Terps take on NC State and Stanford as part of the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship.
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