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Terps

No. 13 Maryland women’s basketball rides hot third quarter to 94-85 win over Michigan State

COLLEGE PARK — The third quarter has been the Maryland women’s basketball team’s best period this season.

Saturday’s game against visiting Michigan State added another brick to that foundation. The No. 13 Terps outscored the Spartans by 19 points in the third quarter to pull away for a 94-85 victory before an announced 6,494 at Xfinity Center.

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Maryland’s explosion negated Michigan State’s 20 offensive rebounds and 19 3-pointers on 44 attempts — a pair of stats that bewildered coach Brenda Frese.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a stat like that and you come away and still win the game,” she said. “But we did all of the other things that were the difference-makers to be able to come out on top.”

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The Terps (13-3, 4-1 Big Ten) relied on their usual catalysts to extend their overall winning streak to six and raise their record against the Spartans to 17-2, including six straight victories.

Senior shooting guard Diamond Miller paced the offense with a game-high 25 points and a team-best eight rebounds and four assists, sophomore shooting guard Shyanne Sellers amassed 19 points, six rebounds and a team-high five assists and senior shooting guard Abby Meyers compiled 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.

The third quarter is when Maryland flexed its collective muscles. With the score knotted at 40 at halftime, the team sprinted out of the gates by embarking on a 17-3 run over a 4:49 span. Sellers fueled the spurt with six points.

When sophomore shooting guard Matilda Ekh drilled a 3-pointer with 4:29 left in the quarter, it ended a 3:23 drought for Michigan State. But that opened the door for eight unanswered points in a 2:12 stretch by the Terps — including four from Sellers — that gave them a 65-46 advantage with 1:56 remaining.

Freshman shooting guard Bri McDaniel’s 3-pointer at the buzzer capped a 30-11 third quarter for Maryland, which has outscored opponents 386-311 in that period this season. The team has not been outscored in the third quarter since Dec. 11, when then-No. 6 UConn wrapped up a 22-19 frame in an eventual 85-78 win for the Terps.

In Saturday’s third quarter, Maryland shot 57.9% (11-for-19) from the field, made all seven of its free throws, outrebounded Michigan State 14-7 and committed just two turnovers to the Spartans’ six.

“I think it was more of a change in focus,” Sellers said of the team’s eruption in the second half. “After halftime, we kind of regrouped to talk about things we needed to work on. And just changing our focus to lock on defensively, and you saw that with them only scoring 11 points in the third quarter. Just trying to stay together. It was a close game in the first half. So we were just trying to expand our lead in the second half and change the game.”

The Terps’ overpowering display in the third quarter took a page out of Michigan State’s playbook. The Spartans had entered the game outscoring opponents 332-216 in the period, but instead got a little taste of their own medicine.

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“Our defense was Swiss cheese,” coach Suzy Merchant said. “There’s five people out there, and it felt like there was 10 Maryland players to our five. We did not compete defensively in that quarter. They got rebounds, they drove by us, they hit shots in our face. Give them all the credit. That was a great quarter for them. It was really the separator.”

Maryland also got sizable contributions from a pair of unlikely sources. Starting power forward and senior Faith Masonius collected 12 points, three rebounds and two assists, reaching double figures for the first time since Nov. 26 when she dropped 14 points, six rebounds and three assists in an 81-70 victory over Towson.

And senior shooting guard Lavender Briggs chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and two assists off the bench. It marked the third consecutive game in which Briggs reached double figures in points as a reserve.

Miller said opposing defenses have to prepare for several playmakers when scouting the Terps.

“I think it makes the team extremely dangerous because people can’t collapse on me because there are shooters out there,” Miller said. “If you collapse, the shooters are going to hit the three.”

Sophomore shooting guard Matilda Ekh led the Spartans (10-6, 2-3) with 20 points and five rebounds, senior shooting guard Moira Joiner added 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists and graduate student shooting guard Kamaria McDaniel finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists. But Merchant pointed out that the offense’s 26.7% shooting (4-for-15) in the third quarter proved too daunting of a roadblock as Michigan State lost for the first time in five games.

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“I thought we had some open looks, and it was the right people taking it,” Merchant said. “They just weren’t falling.”

No. 13 Maryland at No. 6 Indiana

Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network


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