Briggs’ return not enough in Women’s Basketball’s loss to Nebraska

By Aidan Currie

With just under six minutes to play in the third quarter of Sunday’s BIG 10 contest between Maryland and Nebraska, Cornhusker guard Natalie Potts pulled down an offensive rebound   over three Terps defenders, before repositioning herself inside the paint and putting up a shot of her own. Potts’ close range two didn’t fall as a fourth Maryland player crashed the glass.

Even though she was surrounded by four Terps, Potts managed to grab another offensive rebound off of her miss, before then putting up a fade-away, and-one, two-pointer that hit nothing but net on its way through the basket.

“[Potts] was the X-factor,” said Maryland head coach Brenda Frese, who had high praise for the Husker freshman. “[Any] time they needed a big play [or] a big offensive rebound, we couldn’t keep her … off the glass.” 

Potts’ tenacious effort in that sequence midway through the third quarter helped Nebraska establish a slim 45-43 lead in a game that had featured a number of ties and lead changes to that point. As the third quarter winded down however, Nebraska got out to a nine point lead, and despite multiple pushes from Maryland in the fourth quarter, the Huskers were ultimately able to hang on for the 87-81 victory over the Terps.      

“[Just] a tough day for us,” said Frese. “[Nebraska] played a full 40-minute game, [and] got a lot of contributions from across the board. … I thought we got great minutes [of our own] off the bench but our starters … were really impacted in this game.” 

Frese’s comments about her starters had a lot to do with the foul trouble faced by a number of Maryland’s starters, with the most notable of those being point guard Shyanne Sellers. During the Terps’ seven-game winning streak Sellers was the focal point for Maryland’s offensive attack, but after two fouls in the first quarter against Nebraska she was left on the bench for much of the first half. 

“I thought [Shyanne] lost some of her poise and composure when she got into the early foul trouble,” said Frese. “[Nebraska] really keyed in on her. … They had two [defenders] surrounding her most of the game. They guarded her really hard [and] made her have to take difficult shots.”

Sellers faced similar foul trouble in the 2nd half as well, as she ultimately finished with a season low four points after logging just 22 minutes and fouling out with under five minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Without Sellers running the offense for a large portion of the game Maryland still managed to get contributions off the bench, especially from Lavender Briggs. The graduate guard had been sidelined since late November with an injury, but in her return to action, Briggs led the Terps in scoring with 25 points on 11-17 shooting. 

“I felt comfortable … and I feel like it was because of my teammates,” said Briggs. “They were finding me, getting me open looks, and I was just being aggressive and honing my shot.”    

Briggs did much of her offensive work in the second half, as she only had six of her 25 points in the first. Yet, the Terps still managed to keep pace with the Huskers in the first half as they got solid scoring contributions off the bench from Riley Nelson and Faith Masonius.

“Coach always tells me to be ready when your number’s called,” said Nelson. “I think [my performance] was just part of me being ready to go out there and make an impact in the game, and try to help this team as much as possible.” 

In a back and forth first-half, the Terps were also able to limit Nebraska’s inside-out offensive attack in the early going, by holding the Huskers to just one make from behind the arc, in their first six attempts. However, after Nebraska’s Logan Nissley hit back to back triples in the closing minutes of the first quarter, the Huskers seemed to gain a lot more confidence on offense.

“You wouldn’t know it, but we were trying to take away more of the three’s, and live with the two’s,” said Frese. “All of their kids can score the three [and they have] their inside presence with [Alexis] Markowski, so [it’s just] pick your poison.” 

The Nebraska offense continued to give Maryland problems coming out halftime, and much of that had to do with Nebraska’s size advantage, which allowed the Huskers to out-rebound the Terps 20-8 on the offensive glass, and 48-30 overall.

“Honestly just being more disciplined, communicating with each other, and boxing out,” were some of the suggestions that Nelson had for how the Terps could improve on the glass, moving forward. “It’s kind of simple, [but] we just got to do it.”  

Even with the large advantage on the offensive glass the Huskers only finished the game with 19 second chance points, to the Terps’ 14, which allowed Maryland to keep the game close in the fourth quarter. 

Ultimately though, Maryland weren’t able to produce a large enough scoring run to tie or take the lead, and were forced to foul in the final minutes, leading to foul outs from Bri Mcdaniel and Jakia Brown-Turner. 

“I haven’t seen that in quite some time, to have that many players foul out,” said Frese. “Obviously late game we had to go to fouling, but [that’s an] area that I think we can clean up and be more discipline[d], so we can stay on the court.”  

Sunday’s loss marks the end of Maryland’s seven-game winning streak and it also puts the Terps at and even 1-1 in conference play. Nevertheless, the Terps will have the chance to get back on track in just a few days, as they finish off their two-game road trip by traveling to Minneapolis on Wednesday to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-2) at 8:00 p.m.