The Terps tailed 32-31 at halftime of the biggest game of their season. Notre Dame adjusted to a successful early Maryland press and the Terps needed a spark to seize the game.
Abby Meyers stole the ball from the Irish out of the break, and although it didn’t lead to a Maryland basket, it set the tone for the rest of the half. Shyanne Sellers scored a layup on the next possession off another created turnover, giving Maryland the lead.
“The physicality was pretty brutal. So, if we wanted to move on, we knew we had to battle really, really hard and that’s exactly what we did for 40 minutes,” Sellers said.
The Terps didn’t trail from that point on and claimed a 76-59 victory over Notre Dame to reach their first Elite Eight since 2015.
“Just to know that we’re making history right now is really amazing, and we’re not done yet. We’re really excited for whoever we play next,” Diamond Miller said.
“There’s a handful of players sometimes when they come through your program that you want to take to a Final Four, and that’s where my heart is for Diamond because she has been through so much in her four years,so you just don’t want it to end,” Coach Brenda Frese said.
Sellers and Miller both scored 18 and carried the scoring load for the Terps. Both players struggled to score in the first half, but found success in the second by getting to the free throw line and attackingthe basket.
“We started out very slow. It took us until the second half to really pick it up. But at halftime, we just knew that it was 31 to 32. And after all that, only being down one really gave us the confidence we needed to execute the game plan in the second half,” Miller said.
Lavender Briggs (12 points), Meyers (11 points), and Brinae Alexander (eight points) also contributed valuable scoring for the well-balanced Terps.
“I felt like they were kind of daring us to shoot. They put a post player on me and they weren’t really up, so I was just catching and shooting and my teammates were finding me,” Briggs said.
Maryland’s ferocious defense was on display all game, forcing Notre Dame into uncomfortable situations. The Terps forced 25 turnovers, leading to 22 points on the other end.
The Fighting Irish found success in driving to the paint for layups,but struggled to overcome the turnovers. Sonia Citron led them in scoring with 14 points.
Maryland started the game pressing the Fighting Irish offense and creating havoc. The Terps forced eight Notre Dame turnovers in the first quarter.
However, the Terps struggled to consistently knock down shots early on. They shot 42.3% from the field in the first half, which allowed the Irish to stay in the game.
Notre Dame found success getting the ball down low. The Fighting Irish scored 18 first half paint points.
Neither team found much separation in the first quarter and Maryland led 16-14 going into the second.
Notre Dame started to figure out the press in the second quarter, bypassing the pressure and creating makeable layups. The Fighting Irish went on a 13-0 run early in the second to take an eight point lead.
However, the Terps responded after Meyers knocked down a three to break an over six minute scoring drought.
Maryland crawled back and cut the lead to onegoing into the second half.
The Terps came out and played with intensity to start the second half. Maryland outscored Notre Dame 26-13 in the third, behind the strong play of Sellers and Miller.
Maryland closed out the third quarter on a 13-1 run to lead 57-45 with one quarter remaining.
The Fighting Irish were already short-handed coming in because of the injuries to Olivia Miles and Dara Mabrey. Foul trouble to several players further exacerbated their depth and drained their energy to compete.
Notre Dame simply appeared worn out and outmatched in the fourth quarter as Maryland started the quarter on a 14-4 run that effectively sealed the game.
Maryland claimed the victory and will have a long-awaited rematchwith South Carolina on Monday.
“We’re not finished. We didn’t come here just to get to the Elite Eight,” Frese said.