By: Cody Wilcox
After a slow start to the game, Maryland went on a 39-8 run in the first half against South Carolina and never looked back in their 85-61 win on Sunday night at Colonial Life Arena.
During Maryland’s charge, Kaila Charles became the 33rd Terp to score 1,000 career points as she contributed 17 points. Along with her scoring output, Charles’ 10 rebounds put her over the 500 career mark.
Despite Charles’ historic night, Maryland’s offensive production remained well-balanced as five other Terps finished with double-digits.
Charles, a junior from Glenn Dale, Maryland, had 31 points and 10 rebounds in last year’s 94-86 loss to South Carolina in College Park.
In last year’s matchup, the Gamecocks outscored Maryland 29-13 in the first quarter and shot 63 percent. Although the Terps outscored South Carolina 73-65 the following three quarters, Maryland came up short.
South Carolina drew first blood in Sunday’s matchup with an 8-2 lead as they came out in their fast-paced style and forced Maryland into two early turnovers, causing Maryland head coach Brenda Frese to call a timeout less than two minutes into the game.
It appeared that the Gamecocks picked up where they left off earlier in the week against Clemson, when they forced the Tigers into 28 turnovers.
But after going down 18-6 early in the game, and weathering the storm, the Terps were able to settle in and went on a 39-8 run to completely turn the game around.
Maryland entered the half with a 45-26 lead behind Channise Lewis’ ability to spread the ball around. She finished with eight assists and did not commit a turnover in the first half.
The Terps also entered halftime leading 26-14 in the rebound category, with Shakira Austin leading the Terps with eight rebounds. Stephanie Jones led all scorers with 10 at half and continued to be a steady offensive force for Maryland throughout the game. She finished with 18 points and four rebounds.
For South Carolina, it was a much different first half from last year’s matchup against Maryland. The Gamecocks entered halftime shooting 12-36 from the field and 1-10 from beyond the arc. Senior forward Alexis Jennings led the Gamecocks with 10 points at the half.
South Carolina came out aggressive and fast in the second half, which was able to give the crowd energy. After implementing a full-court pressure to start the second half, the Gamecocks went on an 11-2 run, and forced the Terps into seven turnovers, surpassing their first half total of six.
The Terps ended the third quarter with a 60-46 lead, as South Carolina was able to get Maryland into foul trouble. By the end of the third quarter, Maryland had four players with three fouls, and caused the Terps to occasionally switch to a zone to limit their fouls.
Despite South Carolina cutting Maryland’s lead at the end of the third quarter, Maryland was able to pull away.
Coming into the game, South Carolina was going to push the ball and live by three, according to head coach Dawn Staley. But the Gamecocks struggled from beyond the arc as they went 1-22 against the Terps. Juniors Te’a Cooper and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan led the way for the Gamecocks with 11 and 14 points respectively.
Similar to the first half, Maryland was able to control the boards and out-rebound South Carolina, as the Terps finished with a 53-29 rebounding margin. Despite facing foul trouble all game, Austin lead the Terps with 16 rebounds to go along with 10 points.
As for the Terps, this win was crucial for their young players who experienced their first game in a top-ten game and hostile environment.
Maryland’s next game will be against Morgan State in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday Nov. 23.