Jumping out to a 43-32 lead over No. 24 Missouri State at the half, the No. 12 Terps were unable to hold on, as they lost their first game of the season to the Lady Bears 81-72 in the Beach Bubble Showcase.
The first half was a magnificent example of the Terps displaying all of the fresh talent they brought in this season. This all started with the graduate transfer from Harvard, guard Katie Benzan, who came out with vengeance from beyond the arc, finishing the night with 16 points and shooting 4 of 7 from deep and 60% from the field.
“We were extremely unselfish on the offensive end and played really hard on the defensive end,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “It was a tale of two halves.”
However, the second half was a different story as the Terps were outscored 23-9 in the third quarter as they shot 21.4% from the field. In addition to the shooting struggles, Maryland struggled to protect the ball as they finished with 23 turnovers headlined by travels and missed passes.While Maryland struggled in the third quarter, Missouri State was firing on all cylinders executing a 16-0 run, shooting 42.9% from the field in the quarter.
“Our execution with so many new players is an area where we are continuing to grow and trying to gel together,” Frese said. “Luckily for us it’s a quick turn around, but there are a lot of areas where we can grow and still improve on.”
Senior guard Brice Calip, the 2020 Mountain Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, led all scorers with 18 points. She scored 12 of those points during the third quarter, which served as a key catalyst for Missouri State’s 18-2 run during the period. Calip also impressed defensively as well snatching two steals. Overall, the veteran finished the evening scoring 26 points shooting 7-16 from the field.
With an incredible basketball IQ, Benzan wasn’t shying away from any opportunities to help her team to victory and make the effort for a second half comeback.
“I was focused on reading the defense and giving what the defense gave me,” Benzan said. “Yesterday I was more of a distributor and facilitator for my teammates, but today I was more aggressive. At the end of the day I do whatever it takes to help my team win.”
When the fourth quarter hit, the Terps made a valiant effort to comeback against an experienced and talented Missouri State squad. However, the Lady Bears were unstoppable shooting over 65% from the field. Complementing their success offensively, First-Team all MVC, Jasmine Franklin did a great job smothering the Terps’ offensive threats in Angel Reese, Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller.
“I thought we let our frustrations boil over and we weren’t able to get stops on the defensive end,” Frese said. “Right now we’re also really impatient on the offensive end and until that rhythm and flow can come together it’s going to take time for the new pieces of our team to connect.”
The Terps will conclude the Beach Bubble showcase tournament tomorrow against No. 14 Arkansas (3-0) at 5:30 p.m before making their way back to College Park to host Towson on Dec. 3rd at Xfinity Center.