Michigan came into the Xfinity Center and gave Maryland their best punch and for a half, it was nearly enough. They held Shatori Walker-Kimbrough to just two points and forced 10 turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game. It just wasn’t enough, Brionna Jones led the charge with 20 points and eight rebounds as the Terps showed why they’re the sixth ranked team in the country. They leaned on Jones and their depth to not only rally, but rout Michigan with a dominant third quarter run to win 76-56.
While the home team didn’t get the numbers they usually get from their leading scorer in SWK, they did get others to step up and fill that void in production. Brene Moseley and Kristen Confroy filled the scoring void with 13 and 14 points respectively. Kiara Leslie also stepped up when her number was called and by committee, they were able to make up for a very down game from Walker-Kimbrough.
It’s typical that road teams start slow, unfortunately for the Terps it’s something that they’ve struggled with in home games this season. Michigan came in as a .500 team in the conference and were the aggressors from the opening tip. They definitely paid attention to things the Terps like to do, they stayed on shooters on drives and did a great job pressuring players on the perimeter to take away good angles for entry passes. That led to a ton of turnovers in the first quarter.
Michigan’s defense is a sight to behold, they play four-around-one. It’s literally four guards around their 6’5 center Hallie Thome. Those guards get up in offensive players space and take it away, their work rate was also much higher than Maryland’s at the start. The negative trends for Maryland would continue through the start of the second quarter.
Then it happened, the Terrapins started playing their brand of basketball. It started by feeding Brionna Jones inside, then they got stops. Those stops allowed them to get in transition and do what they do best. Run. The game would start to be dictated by Maryland, but Madison Ristovski (15 points) continued to score for Michigan to prevent the Terrapins from taking the lead. The inability to finish defensive possessions with a defensive rebound hurt the Terps mightily in the first half.
With SWK struggling on the offensive end, Maryland’s depth played a huge role in cutting the deficit and keeping them in the game. Maryland would trail by just one at the break. Katelynn Flaherty started slow, but would have 10 to lead all scorers. Jones led the way for Maryland with eight points and it was needed with SWK having one of her worst halves of the season offensively, with just two points and two turnovers.
The second half meant a clean slate and the Terrapins took advantage of it, starting with Brionna Jones. With her partner in crime struggling, she put the scoring load on her shoulders and beat Michigan up inside. Jones will to win was on display on a sequence in which a teammate missed a shot and it looked like Michigan would get the rebound, but Jones scooped it up with one hand while getting fouled. That ignited a light under the Terps and they went on a run to close the third quarter. Taking a near ten point deficit and turning it into a nine point lead. Confroy played a role in it, supplying Maryland with timely three-pointers that would get and keep the crowd in it.
Maryland continued to do their thing in the fourth quarter to close it out, it was all centered around Brionna Jones. Brene Moseley got going late as well, she utilized that patented euro-step in transition to convert an and-1 opportunity for a three-point play. While SWK struggled on the offensive end, she was able to contribute in other areas to help her team which is a great sign of a leader.
There’s a lot that Maryland needs to clean up, but just as in the conference tournament or the NCAA tourney there are going to be games in which things don’t go well.
Michigan proved that they are much better than their 15-10 record on paper, they are a very tough opponent. Flaherty would end the game with 17 points and Siera Thompson while struggling from the field, played lock down defense on SWK. They’re very young, but can only take positives going forward knowing that they went toe-to-toe with the sixth best team in the country for at least a half.
As for Maryland, they learned a little more about themselves in times of adversity. They’ll be able to reference this game later this season knowing that they have players on their bench ready and willing to step up and make plays if needed. The Terps didn’t play their “A” game, but they got the desired result. They have to cure this turnover issue, it’s very troubling to say the least. Fortunately, there’s still time to get it right.