On the last day of 2018 the Maryland Terrapins received a valuable lesson courtesy of the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University. C. Vivian Stringers group set the tone from the opening tip with their physicality and intensity durinng their 73-65 win over the Terrapins.
It was Maryland’s first loss of the season and their first in the conference and Ciani Cryor led her team to victory. Cryor played a very clean floor game on her way to 12 points, 11 assists, and nine rebound performance. Her teammates did a wonderful job of keeping Maryland’s bigs off the glass, it wasn’t always the person boxing out getting the rebound, but just putting a body on a body and letting their teammates get free paths at rebounds. Rutgers hammered a very good rebounding team on the glass 38-28, but it was the offensive glass where the true difference was. The Scarlet Knights held a 19-8 edge on that side of things.
Maryland made a few runs during the game, even tying it at one point, but the visitors responded to every rally. Their ability to hit the three ball kept them in it, but their inability to finish defensive possessions off with rebounds is what truly hurt them. Especially down the stretch, Maryland went scoreless from the field for nearly two minutes.
Rutgers got a key performance from freshman Noga Peleg Pelc, her 10 points came in a stretch when the Terps were making a run. It was truly all hands on deck, Stasha Carey led Rutgers with 18 points and six rebounds The Scarlett Knights also shot the three-ball better than they have all year, having a full complement of players for the first time helped as well. They shot nine of 21 from beyond the arc and 14 of 15 from the line.
The Terps were led by Taylor Mikesell’s 18 points and Kaila Charles added 15 points. The offense was a bit choppy late in the game and a couple of key turnovers really hurt them. As a team, they never really seemed to respond and match the intensity set by Rutgers. It’s only one game, very early in Conference play, but they don’t get much time to dwell on it with Ohio State coming to town on Saturday.
As for those lessons, the first comes with setting the tone. Maryland has been “out talenting” teams as Coach Frese called it during the post game presser. Coach Stringer even acknowledged that this current iteration of Maryland has “all the pieces.” That’s why it was a good win for her group. The Terps have to match that talent level with a relentlessness or sense of urgency from opening tip to the final horn. Consistency is another area in which a few of their players need to improve upon. Freshmen Mikesell and Shakira Austin are pivotal pieces to this year’s team and how far this team goes this year will have a lot to do with how much the two youngsters can grow this season.Austin didn’t have a typical outing, but she still pulled down seven rebounds and blocked three shots. If she can reach a level of consistency, this changes things for the Terps quite a bit. She’s a different type of big to deal with, Mikesell is learning how to balance running the team and getting hers. She’ll get there, but like Austin it will take time. That puts the onus on the upperclassmen to set the tone from an intensity stand point .
The good news is that it’s only one loss, but Maryland will earn their record in the Conference this year as it appears to be wide open. The two youngsters will definitely learn more about themselves as they are members of the starting five and Conference play is a much different beast than nonconference play.