Maryland vs South Carolina
It was a race to the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks with a dozen-point lead 50-62, Abby Meyers in foul trouble, while three Maryland starters had three personal fouls each. Maryland played with tenacity but could not win against its opponents’ height and size.
No. 2 Maryland women’s basketball lost 75-86 to top-seeded South Carolina in the Elite Eight, Greenville 1 Regional Final Monday at 7 p.m.
“But the biggest thing has nobody could have seen this team last season when we had to rebuild it, go and do what they were able to do this season,” Coach Brenda Frese said. “So just incredibly, incredibly proud of this team and for leaving it out there for the 40 minutes.”
Meyers, Diamond Miller and Elisa Pinzan collegiate careers ended in the Terrapin-Gamecock matchup.
“I’m just so grateful to have had this opportunity to come to an amazing school and make a deep run into the postseason and go to an elite eight and I think it’s just rare and something I’ll always cherish and never take for granted,” Meyers said. “This team I played with this past season has been such a special amazing team, so much talent, with an incredible coaching staff and support staff and just, it’s really a family and a community.”
Despite the early buckets by the Gamecocks, the Terps took the lead and won the first quarter 21-15. South Carolina’s size and length dominated the paint, concluding the first half with 25 total rebounds. Aliyah Boston had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists going into the second half. Zia Cooke dominated in the second quarter, going on a 23 and nine point run.
The Terps began strong with full-court pressure. Meyers directed Gamecock Cooke out of bounds, transferring possession in Maryland’s favor. South Carolina’s known for its dominating factor inside the paint, averaging 45 percent inside the paint per game. To combat this drawback, the Terps scored, pressed and made sure to spread out South Carolina’s defense.
“They out-rebounded us,” Miller said. “They got more second chance points and it was our second quarter. They beat us 23 to nine, you know, nine points and a quarter is tough to come back from.”
The Terps spread-out offense allowed them to take a one-point lead with three minutes left in the first quarter. Lavender Briggs with a triple expanded the lead with two baskets, giving Maryland the first-quarter win. The Terps generated six points off the five turnovers. Maryland scored 16 in the last 20 points in the first quarter.
“So we’re really physical because apparently, they were getting all the foul calls. So that just shows that we have heart, we have grit, and just because they’re taller doesn’t mean we can’t bring,” Diamond Miller said. “I mean, if y’all didn’t see that we were bringing in today. I don’t know what could show you that.”
Maryland Coach Brenda Frese explained that her team was “continuing to be aggressive, not backing down I love our start,” looking towards the second quarter, and held South Carolina to 33 percent field goal shooting in the first.
The Gamecocks started the second quarter strong with back-to-back field goals from Aliyah
Boston and Victoria Saxton. Diamond Miller fouled, causing Frese to bench her three minutes into the second quarter. Faith Masonius picked up her team making her own play with a successful back door cut.
South Carolina’s points in the second quarter were mainly from the charity stripe. Ten points by Boston gave the Gamecocks the lead with 4.51 left on the clock.
“I thought the game the game was lost in the second quarter,” Frese said. “The foul trouble the amount of times throughout the game that they were in the bonus really impacted our play but you can see their size, their length or depth wears you out as the game continues on.”
Meyers left the first half with fourteen points, six field goals, two three-pointers, four rebounds, and two assists. Meyers has been the offense for the Maryland team. Sellers and Miller played a short amount of time in the second quarter, staying on the bench with two personal fouls apiece.
The undefeated Gamecocks had the lead over the Terrapins to start the third quarter.
“Abby Meyers is a dog,” Frese said in an in-game interview. “She is fearless and aggressive and needs help in the third quarter.”
Meyers was all the offense in the first half for the Terps, played before picking up her fourth personal with six minutes left in the third quarter and fouled out in the fourth. Masonius became the second Terp to foul out with five personal fouls, four minutes, and 20 seconds left in the fourth.
“A lot of those fouls were costly off putbacks, they have tremendous size that really impacted us and I thought they took advantage if we weren’t running they would duck us in and be really aggressive,” Frese said. “I think it made it made us tentative once Shy and Diamond were kind of held out in that second quarter with the rest of the group.”
Both teams traded trading baskets early in the fourth, with back-to-back buckets, but Maryland could not come back from the 23 to nine second-quarter deficit. South Carolina set a new school record with 36 wins.
The Terrapins played with fight, which showed through Diamond Miller’s 24 points and five rebounds, Shyanne Seller had 11 points and six assists, and Meyers’ numbers.
Boston ended with double digits, 22 points and ten rebounds, and Cooke left the court with 18 points and a high of eight rebounds.
When Miller checked out for the last time in the game, she hugged Frese who spoke a few words to her.
“Just how much I loved her, how proud I was of her, and just thank you,” Frese said. “It’s been an incredible journey that she trusted to this coaching staff and to continue to be here and had nothing to hang her head about she left everything out there. Poured into it for us this entire season.”
South Carolina plays the Iowa Hawkeyes in the NCAA Tournament Final Four Friday, March 31st.