As the two seed and coming off of back-to-back final four appearances, Maryland came into the game with high expectations. On the other side, Iona was making its first appearance in school history. On paper this should have been a tune up game for Maryland as they prepare to embark on another March Madness journey. Instead fans got to see a dog fight between the two teams and a test of true grit from the Terps.
Iona’s Philecia Gilmore starts the game with two three pointers to create a 6-2 lead with 8:51 left in the first quarter. In the next four minutes, Maryland went on a 14-2 run. In one of their best stretches of the game, the Terps displayed great ball movement, moved well in transition and played lockdown defense. After that, Iona would respond with two triples. The score was 26-16 Maryland, the game was far from over but it seemed like the Terps had a stretch where they could seize the game.
In the second quarter, it was more of the same. Philecia started the quarter with another three and soon after, the sloppy play from Maryland began. A combination of Iona’s defense and careless mistakes from the Terps allowed a slow start in the second. After the TV timeout at 4:58, Maryland began to get their groove to back. They finished the quarter on a 9-4 run, including four of Shatori Walker-Kimbrough’s 10 free throws.
In the third, you really got to see the fight that Iona had. Led by Gilmore, Joy Adams and Marina Lizarazu, the Gaels outscored the Terps 21-18 in the quarter. Maryland could not get a consistent rhythm going and although they led at the end of the third with a score of 60-44, you could see the momentum changing sides.
The start of the fourth quarter was a continuation of the Philecia Gilmore show as she finished the game with 21 points of 7-15 from three. Her final three cut Maryland’s lead to seven, but seniors Brene Moseley and Malina Howard scored the next 10 points to effectively end the comeback by Iona. Maryland held the Gaels to two points within the last 6:31 of the game, allowing no field goals as well.
When the going got tough, Maryland was able to prevail due to their leadership and depth as their bench finished with 30 points. Iona played a great game and showed that they were not scared of Maryland from start to finish. If anything, this game proves that Maryland can win in any facet, but it is also a reminder that in order for Maryland to compete against the UCONN’s and the Notre Dame’s of the world, they cannot have a similar performance as they had against the Gaels.