“Resolve, a fixity of purpose.”That’s the definition when used as a noun per Merriam-Webster. That also defines what the Maryland Terrapins displayed last night in a huge come from behind win over the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers 71-69.
Maryland trailed most of the night, by as many as 16 in the second half, 11 with just under nine minutes left in regulation and seven with 1:58 left in the game. They closed the game with a furious 11-2 rally, capped off by the game winning layup from Kaila Charles. That final sequence started with a deflected inbounds pass as freshman Shakira Austin did a great job of defending the inbounder. Her length at 6’5 played a huge role as a 5’8 guard was trying to pass around or over her. Kaila was right there to pick up the deflected pass and she raced down court, like the play prior to finish at the rim.
For three quarters the Golden Gophers controlled nearly every aspect of the game. They dictated the terms at which the game would be played on both ends, their backcourt of Kenisha Bell and Jasmine Brunson wreaked havoc in the first half. Destiny Pitts also went off, she scored 19 during that stretch as well. The trio of Bell-Brunson-Pitts scored 41 of the team’s 45 first half points. Bell and Brunson’s ability to get to the rim put pressure on Maryland and opened things up for Pitts to get good looks from outside.
Brenda Frese stated after the game that her team had to employ a triangle-and-two defense in the second half to slow down Minnesota’s trio of guards. She’s told the media several times over the last two seasons how much of a competitor that Charles is and it was on full display during Maryland’s rally.
Kaila scored 21 of her game high 29 points in the second half, including six of the nine points in that 9-0 Maryland run during the last 50 seconds of the game. That was a signature moment from her, she imposed her will and wouldn’t let her team lose. Charles told the media after the game that she told her team they would win if they played “Maryland Basketball.”
Bell (23 points) and Charles went at it in the second half, both are good defenders and insane competitors. It was fun to watch the leaders for each team take the responsibility of trying to slow the other down.
Maryland’s execution was outstanding in the fourth, there was certainly an uptick in focus and intensity. Freshman Taylor Mikesell hit five of the six three pointers Maryland made as a team. She hit two back-to-back triples in the fourth that cut the lead to as little as five. Her 15 points were much needed on a night where the Terps struggled offensively.
Frese called it a “special, special win for us.” She also had this to say. “Just loved the way we had to fight, claw, and scratch. I think it speaks volumes to the character and the competitiveness in the locker room.”
It was a tough loss for Minnesota as their six game win streak was snapped, but expect them to cause trouble in the Conference Tournament and possibly the NCAA Tournament should they get in. That trio of guards is tough to deal with and Taiye Bello (16 rebounds) is the perfect complement for them in the paint. They play with a very similar grit that their head coach was known for also having. The Golden Gophers aren’t going to be a fun draw for anyone regardless of the Tournament.
As for Maryland, night only got better as Iowa wound up losing to Indiana. The Terrapins no longer share first place atop the Big Ten standings with Iowa. Maryland also secured a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
This type of win revealed what this current Terrapins team is made of, they could of went into the tank after a flat start. Instead they displayed mental toughness, heart, and grit in a win that won’t soon be forgotten in how it ended.