The UCLA Bruins came in to College Park and did all of the little things that would eventually result in an 85-80 win over the Maryland Terrapins in the second round of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Michaela Onyenware scored 30 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Kennedy Burke had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Bruins past the Terps. Point guard Japreece Dean also had 22 points in the win.
Kaila Charles led Maryland with 23 points, Shakira Austin had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Stephanie Jones scored 15 points, but was plagued with foul trouble.
Both teams like to rebound and run, so the battle on the glass was going to be a big factor in deciding this game. While 47 to 43 doesn’t look like a big difference at first, 27 of those 47 pulled down by UCLA came on the offensive end. As Cori Close stated following the game, her team doesn’t have a lot of outside shooters. But they’re confident shooters knowing that their teammates will go get it off the glass.
The Bruins got off to a quick start, setting the tone with their energy and effort. Essentially throwing the first punch with how relentless they were crashing the glass, Japreece Dean did a great job of taking care of the ball when considering how fast UCLA plays. The Bruins took a four point lead into the half, by that point they already had 17 offensive rebounds.
Stephanie Jones kept Maryland in it for much of the first half as she was the only consistent thing going offensively.
Maryland came out of the break ready to compete, for the first time that evening they looked to be playing with an edge. The sluggish starts is something the Terps dealt with this season, not in every game but it did happen quite often.
They started the third quarter with a 6-0 run, which got the home crowd into it. As usual Michaela Onyenware and Dean were ready and willing to make plays, refusing to allow the Terps to completely take the momentum. Kaila Charles scored four points in the first half, but had 15 in the third. Dean and Onyenware combined to score 16 of their team’s 22 points that quarter. Channise Lewis left her imprints on the period as well, ending the quarter with a steal and layup as the buzzer sounded. Maryland outscored UCLA 31-22, giving them a 71-66 lead after three.
Onyenware has the ability to just elevate over an opponent, allowing her to get a clean look whenever she needs it. She scored eight in the final period and the Bruins got off to a quick start, erasing the five point deficit.
The Bruins pursuit of the basketball is what secured the victory, they also switched a couple of things up defensively. Mainly sagging off a couple of Maryland guards so that they could assist their post players in containing the Terps bigs. It really threw the Maryland guards off a bit as a couple of possessions were wasted trying to force the ball into the post.
The other area in which this game was won, the free throw line. In the five point win, the visiting Bruins went 20 of 21. The Terrapins shot just 15 of 25 from the charity stripe. Even with surrendering 27 offensive rebounds and having an extremely poor night shooting from deep, Maryland missed 10 free throws in a game they lost by five.
It was a good win for the Bruins, which shows the growth they’ve made since a 3-5 start to the year. They have their identity and are definitely close to becoming again, what Coach Close wants most, a basketball program, not just a good team. They earned the win and will need to rely on those past close games in the PAC 12 as they head up to Albany to face Uconn.
As for Maryland, this will sting for a bit. But they have nine returning players and a talented freshman class on the way. For the first time in two seasons, Maryland will have a full roster. Three years ago when several players transferred, it really set things back for the Terps and that takes time to rebound from. As Coach Frese said, the future is bright.