Offense falters as No. 9 Maryland falls to No. 17 Michigan State

By: Alejandro Cornman

Brianna Fraser was the lone shining star for the ninth-ranked University of Maryland women’s basketball team (15-2, 4-2 B1G) as they fell on the road to No. 17 Michigan State (13-4, 3-3) by a score of 77-60. The loss snaps the Terrapins’ three game winning streak.

The 6-foot-3 senior forward had a game-high 22 points, including nine and eight point first and second quarters respectively. She finished 7-for-13 from the field and also added six rebounds.

Taylor Mikesell, who was named to last week’s Big Ten player of the Week Honor Roll, was the only other Terp in double figures, finishing the night with 12 points going 5-of-9 from the field.

However, those numbers are deceiving as Mikesell didn’t reach double figures until there was just 1:24 left in the 4th quarter, despite playing a team-high 38 minutes. With the score 76-59 at the time in favor of the Spartans, the outcome of the game was all but decided.

With the exception of Fraser, the Terps loss was vastly due to poor shooting, while the Spartans had continued success. The Spartans beat the Terps in every shooting category, holding higher percentages in field goals, 3-point shooting, and free throws.

One of the biggest discrepancies of the game was from behind the 3-point line. The Spartans shot lights out from beyond the arc early, hitting five of their first seven 3-point attempts in the first quarter.

The Terps corrected that area defensively however, limiting the Spartans to just 1-for-9 from 3-point range for the next three quarters. However, this defensive adjustment didn’t amount to much as the Terps weren’t able to hit any three pointers on the other end of the court.

The visiting side shot an abysmal 16.7 percent from 3-point range, finishing 2-for-12 from behind the arc. This percentage was largely due to the poor shooting of Blair Watson.

Coming off a 14 point performance in a home-win against Michigan, the junior guard went 1-for-7 from downtown, finishing the night with nine points.

While their shooting was certainly an issue, it wasn’t the only thing that the Terps struggled with. Despite coming into the game ranked No. 6 nationally and leading the conference in rebounding margin (+12.5), the Terps lost the rebounding battle to the Spartans.

The home side outrebounded the Terps 37-30, leaving the visitors with a -7 rebounding margin. This also saw the Terps finish well under their rebounding average of 45.8 per game, which ranks No. 8 nationally.

The first quarter was certainly indicative of the trends the game showed, to say the least. A Stephanie Jones layup gave the Terps a 2-0 lead, which would ultimately be their only lead of the game.

The Spartans responded with back-to-back threes which set the tone for the first quarter. After another Jones layup, the Spartans went on a 14-0 run, which saw them lead 20-4 with 3:28 remaining in the quarter.

This run prompted the emergence of Fraser, who scored nine points to help orchestrate an 11-5 running, cutting the Spartans lead to 25-15 after one quarter of action.

The second quarter saw the Terps claw their way back into the game, but in a way very uncharacteristic of how the rest of the game had gone. The visitors continued their momentum they had developed at the end of the first, which prompted a methodical 12-4 run over five minutes that cut the Spartans lead to 31-27 with 2:47 remaining in the half.

The two sides traded baskets for the rest of the period, with the Terps cutting the Spartans lead to three on three separate occasions. A Fraser free throw with one second remaining in the quarter saw the visitors trailing 37-34 heading into the locker room.

In the third quarter, the home side began to pull away from the Terps. Despite both sides struggling to shoot the ball, the Spartans strung together a couple runs to extend their lead to 59-47 after three quarters of play in favor of the home side.

After building this lead, they didn’t look back for the rest of the game. Despite the Terps defense holding strong, they continued their theme of not being able to produce offensively. A 5-0 Spartan run midway through the third was the beginning of the end for the Terps, and another 8-1 run late in the quarter saw the victory go to the Spartans.

The Terps will look to bounce back from this disappointing performance when they host Penn State on Sunday, Jan. 20. The game will be played at the Xfinity Center, and will air on ESPN2.

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