Stellar Defense and Transition Offense Powers No. 14 Women’s Basketball Over Harvard

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Just over five minutes into the game, graduate student Brinae Alexander jumped the passing lane before deflecting a pass, picking up a quick backcourt steal. Then, in one swift motion, Alexander took a dribble past half court before firing a hard outlet pass to junior Shyanne Sellers. Found alone near the basket, Sellers proceeded to calmly bank in a wide-open transition layup.

“We love to defend and get on transition,” head coach Brenda Frese emphasized. “When we’re spreading the floor, being unselfish, and looking for others, great things happen for us.”

The fast break bucket provided No. 14 Maryland with an early lead that held throughout, as the Terps dominated unranked Harvard, picking up a 98-75 win in the regular season home opener.

Maryland further extended its lead in the minutes following Sellers’ basket, thanks to swarming on-ball perimeter defense and countless second-chance opportunities offensively. The Terps picked up five team steals in the quarter alone, and after two key three-point jumpers by Alexander, the home team found themselves with a 31-11 lead as the first quarter ended.

The stifling defense and transition offense continued to open the second quarter. In the 12th minute of play, Crimson sophomore Katie Krupa shoveled a quick pass to freshman Karlee White. Finding herself just inside the left block, White pivoted before rising up for a layup. But she didn’t get far. Just as the ball left the freshman’s fingertips, the Terps’ redshirt junior Allie Kubek shifted over to swat the shot, falling straight to an open Alexander on the endline.

“This is nothing new to us and nothing new to me,” stressed Kubek. “I just go out there, play my game, [shot] block, and do what I can for the team every [night].”

After a quick outlet pass to Sellers, the junior accelerated past half court, taking contact as she jumped into the air for a tough layup that banked in. The bucket gave Sellers a team-high 14 points (five for eight from the field) heading into the half, with Maryland up 18 and in full control.

“For Shy, it’s about being more confident in herself with the ball and not putting too much pressure on herself,” said Alexander on Seller’s success and elevated leadership role. “She [doesn’t] have to do it all, because we have a great basketball team and great scorers around her.”

However, the Terps came out sluggish and slow to start the second half, committing three straight turnovers to open the third quarter. Luckily for the home team, Harvard couldn’t take advantage, as Crimson junior Harmoni Turner missed on three consecutive three-point attempts.

With just under five minutes remaining in the third period, freshman Riley Nelson collected a rebound after a wild scramble. In one fluid motion, Nelson dribbled up court before pulling off a smooth behind-the-back move in transition, leaving her defender in the dust. With a burst of speed, the guard crossed midcourt, then shoveled a laser quick pass to sophomore Bri McDaniel, who took a pound dribble before rising up and hitting a contested layup. The flashy play injected life into the Terps, providing a momentum boost and spurring a 10-6 run to end the third period.

Maryland came out of the break with a lightning fast pace, scoring nine points – a Sellers’ three, a pull-up two by Emma Chardon, and back-to-back layups by Kubek and McDaniel – in a two-minute span to begin the fourth quarter. 

“It’s nice to see this balanced attack from scoring and defending across the board,” said Frese. “[The scoring] is going to have to be by committee, and I thought [the team] showed that tonight.”

Sellers continued her offensive masterclass throughout the final period. Another coast-to-coast layup and two more free throws provided the star junior with a final game-high 25 points and seven assists, just one point shy of her career-high (26). 

“Shy’s able to fill it up all over the stat sheet, not just with her scoring, but also with those seven assists and no turnovers,” Frese emphasized. “She’s doing a great job commanding that position, knowing when to score and when to get others involved.”

A late second-chance layup by freshman Emily Fisher sealed the deal, putting the Terps up 23 and effectively icing the game in College Park – providing Maryland with its 15th consecutive home opener win.

The Terps now move to 1-0 on the season, while extending their all-time series lead over the Crimson to 3-0.

Maryland will look to build on this early winning streak in an early afternoon, top-15 matchup against No. 6 South Carolina this Sunday at 1:00 p.m.