Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Shorthanded Maryland women’s basketball battles, takes down Miami 82-74

By: Jack Parry

Katie Benzan, the smallest player on the floor, dove across the hardwood for the ball, forcing a jump ball which gave Maryland possession, clinging to a six point lead with 21 seconds left. 

It wasn’t pretty, with the Terps allowing Miami’s Kelsey Marshall to score 24 points, keeping things tight the whole way. But a late game resurgence was able to seal it for the Maryland women’s basketball, giving them their first win in three games, 82-74.

Right out of the gate, the Terps struggled to gain a foothold against the Hurricanes with some sloppy play. Miami took the lead in the first quarter as they showed a lot more energy early on. They were helped by a sloppy inbounds pass from Angel Reese which led to an easy layup by Karla Erjavec halfway through the first.

Maryland came out trying to deny Maeva Djalbi-Tadbi in the post, despite this she was able to get on the score sheet early with 7 quick points of her own in the first quarter. 

Despite the slow start, as the quarter came to a close, the Terps started clicking  as the shots began to fall. Chloe Bibby started looking for her shot, scoring 5 out of Maryland’s 17 in the period. However, the defensive struggles still remained, as Lashae Dwyer’s three-point play gave the Hurricanes a 18-17 lead through one quarter. 

At the start of the second, Angel Reese sparked a 9-2 run, scoring six of the 9, getting at the Canes in the paint. This run gave the Terps a seven point lead midway through the second.

But Miami didn’t back down. 

They managed to come back and tie the game at 31, with some time to spare in the quarter. The rally was spurred by bad Maryland turnovers and the Hurricanes making their open looks, with Marshall knocking down some crucial threes, and scoring 10 in the first half to keep the visitors close. 

After trading baskets to close out the half, it was a tie game at the end of the second at 36-36. With early shooting struggles out of the way, both sides finished the half strong, each making four of their last five shots. Angel Reese did the heavy lifting on the offensive end, going 6-7 for 13 points. 

To start the second half, Angel Reese had to exit the game for a short time following an issue with her contact lenses. Something which the Hurricanes likely wished had been extended, because the forward was causing havoc. They couldn’t neutralize her presence in the paint as she contested for every single rebound, even more important in a close game. 

The Terps had a lot of trouble scoring from the field, going three for 9 to start the third compared to Miami’s 5-8 start. They were kept in the game due to the Hurricanes’ fouling through the first part of the third, shooting 13-14 from the line in the quarter, keeping their struggles in the open court at bay. 

The constant sloppiness from Maryland continued to plague them, perhaps encapsulated best by a sequence in which Benzan fell dribbling the ball up the court, turning into an easy fast break layup to put the Canes up 55-53 late in the third. 

Both teams continued to go from tied to up by two with the third quarter coming to an end. Kelsey Marshall hit another three in the final minute to put her squad up three in the last minute of the period, giving her 19 points before the final quarter. Faith Masonius retaliated with a nice board and putback with 4 seconds to go, leaving the Terps down one at the end of the third, 60-59.

The start of the fourth continued being a possession-to-possession battle between both sides. The intensity was noticeably increased, shown by Maryland’s move to a full court press. 

With four and a half minutes left in the fourth, down one, the Terps switched to a defensive zone to try and counter Miami’s offensive efficiency. They ended up forcing two misses and scoring off of both of them, however a missed rotation led to a Karla Erjavec three, which kept the score within one possession. 

Tied with a 1:40 left in the game, the ball was fed down to Reese who muscled her way to a tough basket, drawing the foul in the process. Even though she missed her free throw, Maryland didn’t back down, controlling the rebound and kicking to Benzan for the three from the wing. In a blur, the Terps, who had struggled to hold a lead, were up 77-72 with 1:37 remaining. 

Some great team defense on Marshall down the stretch forced her to airball an important three, thus giving Maryland the win at Xfinity. The Terps will look to continue to bounce back from their previous two losses when they face Rutgers on Sunday.

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