No. 3 Maryland women’s basketball fends off No. 6 Baylor comeback in statement win

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Maryland had possessed a comfortable lead for most of the game, but with nine seconds left, they were in danger of going to overtime. 

The crowd stood still as Baylor guard Sarah Andrews took the final shot. The ball bounced off the rim and into Maryland forward Angel Reese’s hands as the clock hit zero. Maryland was able to hold off the stubborn Baylor attack en route to a 6-0 record.

“For me it was like, ‘What can I learn about our team today?’” said head coach Brenda Frese. “I really learned a lot; their toughness and their resiliency, especially with some adversity being thrown at us to be able to overcome.”

The atmosphere throughout the top-ten matchup was electric. Fans engulfed the court in white shirts. 

“For me, it was an incredible, special time because we’ve just missed this crowd from last year,” said Frese. “So, it was incredibly special to celebrate with this crowd.”

Maryland expected a tougher matchup and it got exactly that. For the first time all year, the Terps found themselves down at the end of the first quarter.

The crowd erupted when Diamond Miller was checked into the game after being sidelined for weeks with a knee injury. She returned to action on Thursday against UNC Wilmington, but only for four minutes. This game, she saw slightly more time, but still was not 100 percent. Miller  ended after 10 minutes of play, clocking five points and four rebounds. 

“I thought we needed every one of her rebounds,” said Frese. “Her defense, her energy, I thought she looked really good in the time that she was able to give us in that first half.”

It was still a close matchup with two minutes left in the second quarter. Guard Ashley Owusu drove to the hoop for an easy layup, as she does often, but then she quickly turned around to disrupt the inbound. Guard Shyanne Sellers recovered the ball and shot an open three. In 11 seconds, Maryland had busted the game wide open and secured a seven-point lead, which they held at halftime. 

Maryland’s lead grew slightly to nine points by the end of the third quarter. The score was now 64-55.

For most of the fourth quarter, Maryland enjoyed a comfortable lead orbiting around 10 points. 

With the clock winding down, Baylor needed to strike fast, and that is exactly what they did. The Bears established a late 8-0 run with two minutes left. 

The score was then 76-73, Maryland’s momentum was fading, and they needed a pick-me-up desperately. With the crowd at their apex, Angel Reese drove to the lane with a lot of contact, got the foul and the bucket.

Still, a late three from Baylor’s Jordan Lewis reduced the lead to one possession with under a minute left. Following a missed layup from Ashley Owusu, Baylor had one last chance to send the game to overtime.

The ball quickly found Baylor’s Sarah Andrews, who had room to send up one final shot from beyond the arc. The ball floated in the air for seemingly an eternity before it finally hit the rim and bounced out. Angel Reese caught the fleeing basketball as the clock hit zero. Maryland had held off a late comeback push from one of the top teams in the nation.

Maryland’s success can be tied to their ability to get to the free-throw line. The Terps had 18 attempts to Baylor’s five. 

“The difference was the foul line discrepancy,” said Baylor head coach Nicki Collen. “That’s not me getting up here and complaining about the officiating. I’m not not one of those. I think some of it was the nature of personnel.”

Maryland’s schedule does not get any easier as they head to the Bahamas to play fifth-ranked NC State on Thanksgiving, then seventh-ranked Stanford two days later.

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