Despite an impressive and resilient performance Sunday afternoon in Columbia, South Carolina, the Terps dropped their third game of the year to No. 1 South Carolina by a final score of 66-59. Sophomore Angel Reese led No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball with 20 points while Zia Cooke led South Carolina with 20 points of her own.
“This is why I built the schedule for. To prepare us for March,” head coach Brenda Frese said of the staunch competition. “To be in these battles, in this kind of intensity, in this kind of kind of energy. Our team has really grown up.”
In spite of the loss, Maryland represented itself well, taking the number one team in the nation down to the wire on Sunday. Throughout the game, South Carolina never led by more than seven despite several flurries. Every time South Carolina made a run, the Terps answered with a run of their own. In fact, Maryland led by two halfway through the fourth quarter before their offense began to sputter.
Throughout the game, but specifically down the stretch, the difference in the game was the size advantage of South Carolina. South Carolina out-rebounded Maryland, 62-36. Especially glaring was South Carolina’s 25-12 advantage on the offensive glass. This discrepancy coupled with 15 blocks to the Terps’ four was a massive storyline that deterred the Terps from attacking the rim throughout the game. Junior Alyiah Boston, South Carolina’s preseason All-American was the leader of this defensive charge as she finished with 16 points, 16 rebounds and 7 blocks.
While defense was a catalyst for South Carolina, Maryland’s zone defense also created havoc, forcing 16 turnovers and tallying eight steals.
“We know they like to drive, we know they got big post players,” Faith Masonius said. “We were really focused on packing it in and getting out to those shooters on the ball. I think it definitely gave South Carolina difficulty inside.”
Despite their loss Sunday, the quality of defense played by the Terps provided greater promise for this team’s ceiling.
The Terps now have time to regroup following their encouraging performance against the top team in the country. Their next game comes December 21 when they take on Coppin State. However, moving forward, Frese feels the Terps are trending upwards.
“There’s a lot of areas we can take out of this to be able to prepare us for what lies ahead,” Frese said.