The reigning national champions came into College Park ready to show the country that last year was a sign of things to come, while Maryland was ready to prove that they can hang with anyone. With both teams entering the game 1-0, Monday night would a be an early test to gauge how good they are respectively.
The Gamecocks started the game hitting three 3’s out the gate, dominating the boards and forcing turnovers while Maryland looked like a deer in headlights. This carried on until the midway through the second quarter when Maryland went on a little run with the help of Stephanie Jones and Blair Watson.
After the half, Maryland continue to lack on defense. Maybe they weren’t used to the zone defense because A’ja Wilson and Tyasha Harris scored 16 of the 22 points that quarter. Kaila Charles seem to keep the Terps afloat with eight of her own but they were getting outplayed on all ends of the floor.
Going into the fourth being down 73-54, the switch finally went off with Maryland and the comeback ensued. Maryland outscored South Carolina 32-21, Kaila Charles scored 19 of her 31 in the fourth quarter, they owned the boards and gained momentum of the game. As the comeback took shape, the energy in the Xfinity center was through the roof. During one stretch, the Gamecocks had no answer for the Terps. Once Channise Lewis got the game within three, the Gamecocks were able to ice it with a tough and-1 by Tyasha Harris. The game became a free throw battle as the Gamecocks won 94-86.
This game was a everything you expected it to be. Great coaches, great programs, great basketball and a nail biting finish. Everyone was paying attention to A’ja Wilson, the preseason player of the year by ESPNW and projected top five pick in next year’s WNBA Draft, to see how see would follow up her Final four performance and man did she deliver. She lead all scorers with 32 points not to mention 12 rebounds (eight offensive), four blocks and three assists. Its safe to say with numbers such as that, expect to see her on the next level. Her and Tyasha Harris, who finished with 20 points and nine assists, definitely played with championship level experience but these Terps have nothing to be ashamed of. They are a young team filled with elite talent. The best part about this game is that this performance isn’t the highest level of play both teams can reach. Lord knows if they will meet again in the tournament but if that happens, the sequel will be better than the original.
Live tweet of the game: https://twitter.com/DapperJ/status/930220910291902464