In front of a crowd of 10,239 the Maryland Terrapins sent their 2018 Seniors off the right way. They held on to beat the Nebraska Huskers 77-75, both Ieshia Small and Kristen Confroy made pivotal plays on their big day. Maryland was led by Kaila Charles with her 19 points and 11 rebounds, they also go 13 points out of Eleanna Christinaki. The Huskers were led by Hannah Whitish and Grace Mitchell, scoring 14 and 13 points respectively. It was a much needed win for Maryland as it snapped a three game losing streak, also giving them a positive to build off of as the regular season closes with the Conference Tournament on the horizon.
After losing a 14 point lead, Maryland found themselves down one after a Whitish triple put Nebraska up 75-74. The Terps called a timeout with 39 seconds left in the game, their offensive possession didn’t go as plan as it resulted in an off balance shot by Small. Jones came up with a huge offensive rebound, fighting off the 6’5 Kae Cain and Nicea Eliely. Stephanie attempted to go back up and was fouled by Eliely, she went to the line and knocked down both free throws to give her team a 76-75 lead. On the ensuing Nebraska possession, Jasmine Cincore got Jones on a switch. Typically that’s advantage offensively as a small wins that matchup with a big. That wasn’t the case as Jones slid her feet with the Husker guard and got the block without making contact. Charles got the ball and was immediately fouled, Kaila split the pair which meant Maryland had a two point lead instead of a three point lead with 13 seconds left. The Huskers called a timeout to draw up their last play, the Terrapins did a great job defensively. They had struggled most of the second half with communication on that end of the floor, but with the game on the line they were at their best. They moved as one and their ball pressure was outstanding, Whitsh had to shoot a highly contested three pointer. Confroy got the rebound and made an extremely heady play, she instantly threw the ball upcourt so Nebraska couldn’t foul her and send her to the line. Small got the ball with 0.2 seconds left and threw it straight upwards as game clock expired.
Things started well for Maryland though, they built a 10 point lead in the first quarter. They held Nebraska to jus 33% shooting from the floor, but the Huskers responded in the second period. At one point, the Terps lead was 14. The Huskers were dealing with foul trouble to their talented young center Kate Cain. She picked up her third foul with 4:36 left in the half. Cincore sparked a 5-0 run for Nebraska, it started on the defensive end as they tightened up their ball pressure and forced turnovers and bad shots. The live ball turnovers allowed them to get out in transition, the key was how they took care of the ball themselves. Maryland makes a living by getting out in transition, Nebraska did their best to avoid those situations by not turning it over. They closed the half strong as a Emily Wood triple cut their deficit to six, but Maryland responded with a Charles layup to extend the lead to eight at the break.
The third quarter was all about the Huskers. they outscored Maryland 23-20. They started the period with a 4-0 run, but the Terrapins responded initially. Then Maryland went cold offensively and it seemed the missed shots affected their defense a bit. They went a couple long stretches without scoring, the Huskers played a role in it and some of it was just bad shot selection. Again Nebraska closed the quarter strongly, cutting their deficit to just five courtesy of a last second tip in by Nicea Eliely.
Neither team started the fourth quarter well, for a minute and change there wasn’t a made basket. Brianna Fraser ended that drought with a jump shot. Maryland took a 10 point lead after a Christinaki triple. Janay Morton cut into the lead with a three pointer of her own, Wood would hit one a few possessions later and Maryland saw it’s lead shrink again. With 4:56 left in the game, Nebraska trailed by just four. Kaila per usual, started to get a bit more assertive offensively and gave her team a little breathing room with a drive to the basket.
Cain started to show what Nebraska was missing while she was out with foul trouble. Her size gave Maryland fits inside late in the game, she scored four straight points to make it a three point game. Her presence also seemed to tip the once one-way battle on the boards in favor of Nebraska. Cain found Cincore for an open jumper to cut their deficit to one. The Huskers defense continued to generate stops and Maryland struggled to extend their lead. The Terrapins would take a 73-70 lead after a pair of free throws from Charles. Cain would again score, this time on a short jumper after the feed from Maddie Simon. Charles again was fouled, but she split the pair, giving Maryland a 74-72 lead with 1:36 left in the game.
While it was good to see Maryland break out of their slump and get back on the winning side of things, they played a role in this game being so close late. The Terps went to the foul line 23 times and only knocked down 15 of those opportunities. Couple that with not being able to generate easy points off of their defense and this game got extremely tight. Nebraska did an outstanding job of avoiding those long Maryland runs, by not turning it over they were able to make the Terps play in the halfcourt and at the tempo of their choice.
Now at 23-6 and 12-4 in the Big Ten, Maryland should have no issue making the NCAA Tournament. As far as making the cut to hosting the first two rounds, that depends on what kind of finish they have in the Conference Tournament starting this week. Still, in what can easily be considered a “down” year after the departure of players via transfer and losing a key piece like Blair Watson, Maryland played to their standard with the hand that was dealt. Both Small and Confroy stated that their Senior season isn’t over yet, only time will tell when it comes to a stop.