Maryland Women Run Away From Depleted Spartans

The Maryland Lady Terrapins were picked to win the Big Ten Conference, even though this season is their first in the conference. While they’ve been proving the coaches and media right so far this season, they got off to a less-than-stellar start against a struggling team.

The Michigan State Lady Spartans came into College Park on Jan. 22 with a record of 9-9 overall, but just 1-6 in the Big Ten. Four out of their five normal starters were out with injuries, and the team was only dressing seven players. Michigan State hit two of their first three shots, while Maryland missed their first three to fall behind 5-0 just a minute and a half into the game. Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said the Spartans took it to her team early.

Maryland's Laurin Mincy goes up against a Michigan State defender for a layup during their game Jan. 22 at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md.  Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics.
Maryland’s Laurin Mincy goes up against a Michigan State defender for a layup during their game Jan. 22 at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md.
Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics.

“I thought they came in and were really aggressive, took it to us rebounding-wise to start the game,” Frese said.

Meanwhile, Terps guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had to briefly take a seat on the bench after taking a hit to the face that left her with a bloody nose and blood on the court. After Aerial Jones hit a three to give the Spartans an 11-7 lead with 14:08 left in the first half, Maryland got going and started imposing its will.

Laurin Mincy made a pair of layups, and Brionna Jones made a jump shot after rebounding her own miss during an 8-0 run to give Maryland a 15-11 lead with 11:22 left in the half. The Terrapins also started forcing the Spartans to take a lot of time on their possessions, keeping them out near the center circle late into the shot clock and forcing them to rush up shots before the shot clock expired. Maryland forced two shot clock violations in the first half. Leading by three with five minutes left, the Terps defense stiffened even more, going on a 12-4 run to take a 37-26 lead into halftime. At one point during that stretch, Maryland hit six straight shots and forced four turnovers.

The Terrapins didn’t miss a beat coming out of halftime. Maryland went on a 10-4 run to take a 47-30 lead when a media timeout was called with 15:47 left in the second half. The lead only grew from there. Maryland pulled out to a 32-point lead, and cruised to an 85-56 win to improve to 16-2 overall, and 7-0 in conference. Mincy finished with 17 points on seven of 13 shooting to lead five players in double-figure scoring. Lexie Brown added a dozen points with seven assists, and Brionna Jones also had a dozen points to go with six rebounds. That was enough to overcome a game-high 28 points and 16 rebounds by Powers. Maryland shot 52.9 percent from the floor in the second half, and 50 percent for the game, thanks in large part to 46 points in the paint. The Spartans missed 12 out of their last 14 shots, and shot just 26.7 percent from the floor in the second half. Frese liked how her team was sharing the ball.

“I really liked obviously how we shared the basketball tonight. When you talk about our lowest in terms of turnovers…I thought we were extremely unselfish, made easy plays for each other offensively, which made the game open up for everybody,” Frese said at the beginning of the postgame press conference about her team’s 21 assists on 33 baskets to just nine turnovers. Frese explained how Maryland used its depth to overpower Michigan State.

“To be able to send waves in this game I thought was really important where we could wear Michigan State down. That’s going to be a big plus for us moving forward is to be able to continue to use the depth that we have,” Frese said. Getting stops on defense continues to be the key for Maryland.

“I think when we get stops to transition, and really get going, we kind of feed off of that…I think when you talk about how unselfish our guard play is right now, looking for each other in transition inside really opened it up for us,” Frese said. As it turns out, when her team gets rolling, it’s fun for her players.

“I feel like we have our best runs when we’re having the most fun,” Brown said. “So when we start playing all 40 minutes like that, then we’re going to be scary.”

Maryland will travel to Indiana on Jan. 25, and then play 20th-ranked Iowa on Super Bowl Sunday at home, where they’re now 10-0 on the  season.

Maryland Women win First Big Ten Game

A new era of basketball is underway in College Park, and one of Maryland’s bigs appeared to take right to the style of play in the new conference.

Senior Guard Laurin Mincy goes up for a layup attempt between two defenders during Maryland's Big Ten opener against Ohio State.  Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics Department.
Senior Guard Laurin Mincy goes up for a layup attempt between two defenders during Maryland’s Big Ten opener against Ohio State.
Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics Department.

The Maryland Lady Terrapins (number 14 AP, number 9 USA Today Coaches’ Poll) tipped off their first Big Ten season against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Dec. 29 before a crowd of 5,671 at the XFINITY Center. Sophomore center Brionna Jones (Havre de Grace/Aberdeen High School) scored Maryland’s first five points and racked up four offensive rebounds in the first 3:06 of the game. Jones, who finished with seven offensive rebounds, felt that being more physical would help her team control the tempo of the game.

“I was just trying to out-physical them, just be more physical than them, and out-rebound them, and just try and work as hard as I could to keep the ball in our hands,” Jones said. She finished with a game-high 23 points, 14 total rebounds and four blocks.
However, the rest of the first half was fairly evenly played. The key factor was Maryland’s attack on the boards. The Lady Terps held a 33-17 edge in total rebounds, including 15-6 on the offensive glass and 15-3 in second-chance points. Ohio State got untracked by three-point range enough to keep Maryland from pulling away, as the Terps only held a 43-40 lead at halftime.

The Terps started to impose their will early in the second half. Jones scored on a layup off another offensive rebound with 17:46 left to give herself a double-double and Maryland a 49-44 lead. Just over a minute and a half later, junior forward Tierney Pfiernan set up sophomore guard Lexie Brown for a layup that gave Maryland a 55-49 lead that led Ohio State to call a timeout as the crowd roared its approval. The Terps then started pulling away, holding the Buckeyes scoreless for four and a half minutes while missing eight straight shots. That allowed Maryland to go on an 11-0 run to extend their lead to 68-55 with 10:20 left in the game. The Terps maintained control for the rest of the game on the way to an 87-78 win, their first-ever Big 10 win. Maryland (10-2) shot 51.5 percent in the second half, while holding Ohio State (8-5) to just 35.7 percent. Five players, including four of the starters, scored in double figures, and Head Coach Brenda Frese was happy with how her players handled the shifts in momentum during the game.

“(I’m) really proud of how we handled the game, a game of runs; really a lot of fun to watch. I mean, it was like a track meet when you talk about both teams really being up-tempo and being aggressive,” Frese said. She gave credit to the Lady Buckeyes for how strong a team they are, and said the game was an indicator of the “battles” to come during the rest of the Big Ten season.

“More than anything, when you get to conference play, it’s just you’re excited about the level of competition and the fact that you’re going to have to play a complete game in order to get the win,” Frese said. With the amount of depth her team has, she says she’s open to adjusting how she rotates her players in and out of games.
“I feel like with our depth this season, it’s really a matter of who’s practicing well, who’s playing well; there’s different games in terms of matchups,” Frese said, adding that she feels Maryland’s depth is an advantage.

After Cait Craft hit a three to pull the Buckeyes to within four with 2:43 left, Ohio State tried trapping Maryland. Sophomore guard Lexie Brown explained how Maryland was able to handle that pressure.

“At that point in the game, I think they were just trying to get us to turn the ball over, so they were kind of just chasing the ball. After you beat the trap, the middle was wide open, and they were just leaving Bri wide open in the bottom, so it was our job just to find her,” Brown said. Brown finished with 12 points and seven assists.
Jones wasn’t the only starter with a double-double. Redshirt senior guard Laurin Mincy had 14 points and 11 rebounds, along with six assists. Joining Jones, Mincy and Brown in double-figure scoring was Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who barely missed a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds, and junior forward Tierney Pfirnan, who had 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. Pfirnan drew some cheers from the fans with her hustle.

The Terrapins will play their first Big Ten road game on New Year’s weekend when they go to Nebraska (number 12 AP, number 14 USA Today) on Jan. 3.