By Hannah Fields
It was homecoming weekend for Miami native and Maryland redshirt senior guard Ieshia Small, whose performance helped the Terps’ women’s basketball team (5-2, 0-0 Big Ten) defeat the Miami Hurricanes (4-2, 0-0 ACC) 79-71 to finish 2-0 at the Miami Thanksgiving Tournament.
The Terps were able to spend Thanksgiving together at the Small household, an experience that no doubt brought the team even closer in preparation for this game against the home team.
From the opening tip, the Terps and the Canes were evenly matched on offense and on defense, and it was not until the middle of the first quarter that Small checked in. She made her presence known right from the start, sinking a jumper to give the Terps a 12-9 lead with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
The Terps defense held strong on the next Miami possession, forcing a shot clock violation and the Hurricanes’ fourth turnover of the game. Miami evened up the score at 12-12 and scored four quick points at the end of the first quarter to take a 20-16 lead over the Terps.
At the start of the second quarter, Maryland senior Kristen Confroy and Small both hit back-to-back jumpers to tie the Hurricanes at 22. Confroy continued her success on defense with a steal, forcing Miami into another turnover.
Lewis continued the Terps’ run with a drive in the paint, and gave the Terps a two point lead with 7 minutes left in the half.
By the time that Miami called a timeout with 5:30 left in the half, Maryland had three players with six points, sophomore Kaila Charles, Small and Lewis, and Confroy not far behind with five points. To end the half, Small led the team with 14 points, 10 of which were scored in the second quarter alone, and four rebounds, contributing to the Terps 36-35 lead at halftime.
The Terps opened up the second half with a bang, with sophomore forward Stephanie Jones capturing a steal from the Hurricanes and scoring two back-to-back buckets. Maryland then went on a 6-0 run with help from Lewis, and took a 42-35 lead.
When junior forward Brianna Fraser checked in for the first time in the game, she immediately made her presence known to the Canes. Driving to the basket, Fraser got the bucket and a foul called on the Hurricanes, then completed the three-point play by sinking her free throw.
The Terps continued their 11-3 run with bank shot from Small, who was shooting 6-of-7 from the floor for 16 at this point in the game. Down 47-38 and feeling the momentum shift in Maryland’s favor, the Hurricanes called a timeout with six minutes left in the third.
Miami shrunk Maryland’s lead to one, making it 53-52, but Maryland’s sophomore guard Blair Watson, who scored a career-high 20 points when the Terps played Kennesaw State, sunk a three with 2:30 left in the quarter.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Terps were hanging onto a one-point lead over the Canes, with Small leading the team with 17 points and 6 rebounds and Charles right behind her with 14 points and eight boards.
The fourth quarter belonged to Small, who put on a show for her Miami crowd. Her all-around effort, including scoring a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds, helped lift the Terps over the Canes and win the tournament.
In addition to Small’s stand-out performance, Lewis and Charles aided in the Terps’ offensive dominance in the fourth quarter, each scoring 12 and 18, respectively.
The Terps will have a short break until their next matchup against Virginia (3-3, 0-0 ACC) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.