“Trap game.” According to Urban Dictionary, the definition is as such. ” A trap game is a game played against an opponent generally deemed to be easy to defeat. As a result a person or team may not prepare as thoroughly as they would for a formidable opponent. Often this attitude and lack of preparation lead to a loss.” The Maryland Terrapins Womens Basketball team found themselves in a situation described above when they hosted the Niagara Purple Eagles a few days after giving South Carolina a scare with a monstrous rally. Then in a six day stretch they play Connecticut up at the XL Center in Hartford on Sunday. In the middle of those big time matchups, their Thursday morning matchup with the Niagara Purple Eagles. Owners of a 5-22 record last season, having gone 8-22 in the MAAC Conference. All the ingredients were there for an outcome of a “trap game.”
“I think our seniors did a tremendous job in being consistent and ready to settle us in. We were able to do some nice things in the third quarter, but as a team we need to be ready from the tipoff.” – Brenda Frese, Maryland Head Coach
That wouldn’t be the case despite what seemed like an uninspired performance from the Terrapins through the first half. Seniors Ieishia Small and Kristen Confroy would lead their younger teammates to start playing with a purpose by example. Confroy did it with effort plays, rebounds and tie-ups including a career high 5 steals. Small did it by showing off her versatility. She did a bit of everything en route to a career high 18 points, with 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and a block. Maryland fed off the energy of “Field Day” to get a 92-65 win in front of over 6,500 local elementary and middle school students.
After a very slow start, Maryland built a 14-point lead midway through the second quarter. Then the Purple Eagles made a run late in the half to cut the deficit to six. Victoria Rampado (21 points) was big in that stretch, knocking down a pair of key triples.
Coach Frese wasn’t happy with her team’s lead at the half and she must of let her team know about it.
In a year where Maryland is already committed to playing small ball due to it’s roster restraints, Frese rolled out an even smaller lineup to open up the game against Niagara. Kaila Charles anchored a lineup at center that included Confroy, Sarah Meyers, Blair Watson (13 points), and Small. That allowed the Terps to play even faster and space the floor better. With knockdown shooters on the wing in Watson and Confroy, Niagara’s job of keeping Small and Charles out of the paint became increasingly more difficult with that lineup on the floor.
Niagara was held to just 25% shooting in the third quarter, while Maryland shot 83%. Defense let to offense for the Terps and they outscored the Purple Eagles 23 to 12. Charles scored 7 of her 17 points in the period, had she not fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter, she definitely would have wound up with more points as she proved to be too tough a cover for the visitors.
While Maryland didn’t play the same level of defense in the fourth quarter, the separation gained in the third meant trading baskets with Niagara wouldn’t hurt. Stephanie Jones scored a career-high 21 points to go with 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. Once Charles fouled out, she stepped in as the center of that super small lineup and the Terps didn’t miss a beat. Jones scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half to help her team seal the win, she narrowly missed a double-double.
As a young team, Maryland definitely got an opportunity to learn from their experience today. They shouldn’t and probably won’t have any issues getting up for Sunday’s game in Hartford, but they get a chance on Tuesday when they play Howard to show that they learned from their mistakes today.