Entering this Wednesday, Faith Masonius had collected 499 total rebounds across her five seasons at Maryland – just one shy of checking another accomplishment off the bucket list and joining the 500 Rebound Club.
That record-breaking board came with just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter. Masonius boxed out her defender, leaping up to secure the defensive rebound. Then, in a flash, the graduate student dribbled coast-to-coast, accelerating past midcourt before firing a pass to Shyanne Sellers. After relocating to the left perimeter, Masonius received the ball yet again – this time driving baseline and delivering on a crafty reverse layup.
The rebound and bucket contributed to a controlling 35-19 first-half run for the Terps that would hardly be contested, as Maryland delivered a 78-55 win over James Madison.
A blistering 9-0 run for JMU opened the game – courtesy of good looks by Kseniia Kozlova, Peyton McDaniel, and Olivia Mullins.
“I thought we started super emotional and were getting in our own way,” said head coach Brenda Frese. “I don’t think it was a very good first quarter for us, but [we] just stayed patient, positive, and tried to work through some of that.”
The Terps did exactly that, storming back just minutes later. Spurred by Masonius’ layup, Maryland led a 18-8 run, halting the Dukes’ scoring outburst and taking the lead off an array of layups and jumpers from Sellers, Emily Fisher, and Bri McDaniel.
Then, in the final seconds of the first quarter, Sellers took over. With 20 seconds, and counting, left in the opening period, the junior guard calmly dribbled the ball up court. After a quick give-and-go motion with Fisher, Sellers aimed a triple from the left wing that splashed into the net. With 10 quick points late in the period, Sellers had outscored the entire Dukes’ team in the final five and a half minutes of the quarter.
The buzzer-beater provided Maryland with its first lead of the day; however, it took the Terps time to get rhythm back after the break. A sloppy start to the second quarter ensued, as 13 combined turnovers between both teams led to a multitude of fast break, defense-to-offense baskets.
But still, even through the slight dysfunction, Sellers found ways to contribute – extending her total to 20 points off constant free throw and layup opportunities.
“It starts with your best player and one of the best in the country,” Frese said of Sellers. “I thought Shy…she set the tone from the tip. We’re asking her to carry a huge load and that’s what continues to make her so special.”
As halftime commenced, the Terps found themselves with a seven point lead – thanks, in part, to swarming defense that limited the Dukes to just 11 total second-quarter points.
Five quick points from Allie Kubek sparked a 7-1 Maryland run to open the third quarter, but McDaniel answered right back for JMU. The redshirt sophomore proceeded to catch fire, knocking in three consecutive triples to single-handedly place the Dukes back in the game.
Playing a bit short handed with a seven-player rotation, Frese searched for an answer, subbing in Summer Bostock late in the period. The freshman guard made an immediate impact, extending Maryland’s slim lead with a convincing pump fake and jumper to follow.
“It was important for our freshmen to step up,” stressed Sellers. “Summer came in and had a really big game for us…I think it’s a really big confidence booster for her.”
Another triple, this time from Brinae Alexander, provided the Terps with a comfortable 15 point lead heading into the final stretch.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Sellers capped her near-flawless day offensively by hitting yet another free throw to reach 29 points, a new career high. Then, in the final few minutes, Fisher raced down the lane to block a Dukes’ layup with authority – effectively icing the game and holding the Terps’ lead to more than 20 as time expired.
Maryland’s seventh straight victory moves them to 9-3 on the season, while holding an impressive 13-1 all-time series lead over James Madison.
The Terps now have more than a week off to rest, with their next chance to extend the win streak coming on December 31 in a New Year’s Eve, road matchup against Nebraska (9-2) at 2:30 p.m.
“[I] love these last seven wins that we’ve had in a row, taking care of business,” Frese emphasized. “Now it’s taking a great break and coming back and being ready for [Big Ten] conference [play].”