By: Cody Wilcox
Kaila Charles was taking free throws at the 7:19 mark in the third quarter while Maryland head coach Brenda Frese wrapped her arm around sophomore guard Channise Lewis.
For the first time since Dec. 10 against Loyola, Lewis got the start in the place of freshman Shakira Austin to add some additional ball handling against the Michigan State Spartans, who held the Terps to 60 points in the first matchup.
Lewis not only started for No. 1 Maryland, but she gave the Terps a new level of confidence and life in their Big Ten tournament quarterfinal 71-55 win against No. 9 Michigan State Friday afternoon.
Earlier this season, Michigan State routed Maryland 77-60 in East Lansing, Michigan. However, with today’s win over the Spartans, the Terps go to 4-0 against Michigan State in postseason play.
With Lewis starting over Austin, who saw similar struggles today as she did in her first matchup against the Spartans, Maryland had a wide array of ball movement to start the game. Seven different Terps scored, while Lewis finished with 2 points to go along with her eight assists and three rebounds.
Charles led the Terps with 21 points, overcoming a rough start to the game as she began 1-8 and did not make her first field goal until 6:45 mark in the second quarter. But in the junior owned the third quarter scoring 14 points on 6-8 shooting to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Maryland went to junior Stephanie Jones to open things up for the Terps. Jones hit a jump shot from the elbow on the first possession and a jump hook a few possessions later to allow Maryland to leap out to a 4-2 lead early in the first.
With Lewis starting at the point guard position, similar to what the Terps did at the start of the season, freshman guard Taylor Mikesell was able to work off of screens and use her teammates to get open. She began the game 2-2 beyond the arc and finished with eight points.
Brianna Fraser also made an appearance in Maryland’s first tournament game. Fraser had been nursing a left ankle injury that she suffered on Feb. 21 against Minnesota, and still seemed to not be 100 percent healthy. The lone Maryland senior finished with seven points.
In the second quarter, Maryland was outscoring Michigan State 15-4 until around the 3:30 mark when the Spartans put together back-to-back 3-pointers, which came from Nia Clouden and Jenna Allen. Allen was a key factor in the second quarter for the Spartans as she had seven points during Michigan State’s 12-1 run to end the half.
During Michigan State’s run to finish the half, Maryland’s turnover struggles returned. The Terps committed five turnovers in the final three-and-a-half minutes of play, which played a part in their lead going from 15 to four heading into halftime at 35-31.
The Terps came out of halftime as a brand new team. After allowing the Spartans to score 12 points in the final few minutes of the first half, Maryland only gave up 10 points in the entire third quarter.
The Spartans were led by Allen, who finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds.
Maryland’s defensive efficiency and Charles’ offensive explosion allowed the Terps to outscore the Spartans 36-24 in the second half to move their all-time record to 12-1 in the Big Ten tournament.
Maryland will move on to the Big Ten tournament semifinals. The Terps with face the winner of No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 4 Michigan tomorrow at 5 p.m. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.