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Terps

No. 20 Maryland women’s basketball follows upset of Notre Dame with lackluster 90-67 home loss to Nebraska

COLLEGE PARK — All the good vibes the Maryland women’s basketball team earned from Thursday night’s upset of No. 7 Notre Dame are gone.

What was left did not look very appealing as the No. 20 Terps appeared flat and listless in a second-half collapse that contributed to a 90-67 rout at the hands of visiting Nebraska on Sunday afternoon before an announced 4,321 at Xfinity Center.

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The setback was deflating on several levels. The 23-point defeat was Maryland’s most lopsided against a Big Ten opponent and biggest since a 94-61 loss to Florida State on Feb. 28, 2010, as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The loss was also the Terps’ first in a Big Ten opener since joining the conference in 2014. It marked the first time the program had lost in its first league game since Jan. 3, 2013, when that team fell to North Carolina, 60-57.

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And it was also Maryland’s first loss in 16 meetings with the Cornhuskers. The 90 points surrendered were 15 more than Nebraska (6-3 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) had ever scored in a single game against the Terps (7-3, 0-1).

The outcome also denied coach Brenda Frese a chance to collect the 600th win of her career. Already the program’s winningest coach, Frese continues to sit one victory shy of the milestone at 599-173 (.776 winning percentage) in 24 years, which includes a 542-143 record (.791) in 21 seasons with the Terps.

That, however, hardly seemed relevant in light of Sunday’s result.

“A lot of disappointment in our locker room and rightly so,” Frese said. “We knew how good Nebraska is. We knew they were going to come in hungry after their disappointment in the [85-54] loss to [No. 9] Virginia Tech [on Thursday]. I thought they exposed us in every way possible.”

While Frese mentioned fatigue stemming from the emotional 74-72 win at the Fighting Irish as a factor, she refused to use it as a rationale for the setback. And Frese pointed out that Maryland will have plenty of important games on Thursdays and Sundays, especially in the Big Ten.

“We have to get off to a better start,” said senior shooting guard Brinae Alexander, who scored 14 points. “Just like Coach B said, as a team, we have to figure out how we want to approach the game. It starts with practice, the shootaround, everything. Just working on our approach to the games and how we have to treat everyone like a tough team, everyone like a Notre Dame.”

Nebraska's Allison Weidner, left, dribbles down court as Maryland's Lavender Briggs reaches for the ball during the second half of Sunday's game in College Park.

A Terps defense that limited the Fighting Irish to 45.2% shooting (28-of-62) and 35.3% (6-of-17) from 3-point range was unmasked by Nebraska, which converted 50% of its shots (30-of-60) from the field, including 48% from beyond the arc (12-of-25), en route to outscoring Maryland 59-31 in the second half.

Cornhuskers junior shooting guard Jaz Shelley was 6-for-10 from 3-point range and finished with two more 3-pointers than the entire Maryland offense, which shot 4-for-16 from behind the arc.

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Frese said her players should expect more of the same from future opponents, who now can use Nebraska’s blueprint.

“Look, we’re in conference play now, and every team can shoot the three,” she said. “That’s just an area for us that we’re going to have to continue to keep repping in practice, showing in film, trusting our rotations, and being able to get into our stances. … Until we clean up some of those easy things [that are] scout-specific, then we’ll continue to have tough games like this.”

The Cornhuskers’ player who wears the No. 1 jersey was better than the Terps’ player who wears No. 1. While Shelley racked up a game-high 29 points on 10 of 17 shooting, scored 22 points in a span stretching from the 1:02 mark in the second quarter to the 25-second mark of the third and added five assists and three rebounds, senior shooting guard Diamond Miller scored 13 points on 3-for-12 shooting and had more combined turnovers (five) and personal fouls (four) than combined rebounds (four) and assists (two).

Cornhuskers coach Amy Williams said the team was very cognizant of trying to handcuff Miller, who had 31 points, including the game-winning jumper as time expired, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks in that upset of Notre Dame.

“Our best goal was to try to just make things as difficult as we could,” she said. “We tried to run secondary help defenders, try to build a wall, keep her out of the paint because she’s just so dangerous, so crafty. I thought it was a team effort to try to slow her.”

Maryland's Abby Meyers, left, and Faith Masonius double-team Nebraska's Annika Stewart in the first half of Sunday's game.

While sophomore shooting guard Shyanne Sellers paced the Terps with 21 points and eight rebounds, the offense got little from a pair of starters in senior shooting guard Abby Meyers (two points on 1-for-7 shooting) and graduate student point guard Elisa Pinzan (zero points and two assists).

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Frese pointed out that Maryland finished with more turnovers (17) than assists (11). By comparison, Nebraska had 21 assists and 17 turnovers.

“I think sometimes we get in our own way when we’re traveling and turning the ball over and we’re crashing into people,” she said. “So it looks like really good defense by Nebraska when we give away a lot of those opportunities with 17 turnovers.”

The Terps will meet Purdue (7-1) on the road on Thursday before returning to tangle with No. 3 Connecticut on Sunday. Frese intimated she might have to consider some changes, including shifting players in and out of the starting lineup.

“We’re continuing to evaluate,” she said. “We said this as a staff that by no means is the starting lineup in place. We’re still continuing to learn players, and we’re still trying to get levels of consistency, and that might be from half to half and game to game. But that level of consistency means nothing when you go to Notre Dame and you come back and give a low-level type of effort in a game like this.”

No. 20 Maryland at Purdue

Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

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TV: Big Ten Network

Maryland's Shyanne Sellers shoots over Nebraska's Jaz Shelley during Sunday's game in College Park.

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