In recent contests, the Maryland women’s basketball team has started hot, helping it bury opponents amid its seven-game win streak. But against Purdue on Thursday, that was far from the case.
Purdue came out firing and led the Terps by three after the first quarter. The Terps hadn’t trailed after the opening period since losing to Michigan State on Jan. 11.
Without that early advantage, the No. 10 Terps failed to gain the type of control they have grown accustomed to lately. And when the Boilermakers locked in defensively down the stretch, they had no answer, losing 75-65 at Xfinity Center.
“Obviously, [we’re] disappointed in our play,” coach Brenda Frese said. “It was an uncharacteristic night for us. Credit to them. They made it difficult for us.”
The Boilermakers (17-10, 8-5 Big Ten) opened the contest with a level of physicality and efficiency the Terps struggled to match. After guard Karissa McLaughlin put them up by five points with a 3-pointer about two minutes into the second quarter, Maryland coach Brenda Frese called timeout.
Following the timeout, guard Kristen Confroy led a brief turnaround. Shortly after being honored before the game as the second player in program history to make 200 3-pointers, she scored eight straight points to put Maryland (22-4, 11-2 Big Ten) back into the lead. Confroy finished with 13 points.
The Terps ended the period on a 16-6 run, during which Purdue didn’t notch a field goal for the final 3:38. With a five-point advantage at intermission, buoyed by eight forced turnovers (including three shot clock violations), it appeared they were ready to run away with the contest.
That seemed even more to be the case when Maryland extended its lead to 10 in the third quarter.
But Purdue stormed back, holding Maryland below 40 percent from the field and without a 3-pointer in the second half.
“I don’t know if we relaxed, I don’t know if we got tired,” Frese said. “Purdue, I knew would give us a 40-minute game. We watched too much film to be able to see that they weren’t every going to quit. We were fully aware of that.”
Boilermaker coach Sharon Versyp said the goal was to eliminate the long-range option, especially with the potent Confroy as well as high-scoring guard Eleanna Christinaki.
Confroy went scoreless in the second half and Christinaki, despite scoring 13 points, finished 5-of-23 from the field. Frese said the junior improved in the second half when she tried to drive and be more aggressive, but it wasn’t her night.
“We need her offense and she wants the big shots and she wants the moments,” Frese said. “Shooters continue to try to score the ball and stay confident … but, unfortunately, it wasn’t falling her way.”
Purdue finished the game on a 10-0 run. The Terps didn’t score in the final 2:17. After winning seven straight games, Maryland suffered its second upset defeat on its home court this season.
The Boilermakers shot 50.9 percent from the field and made 61.5 percent of their shots in the fourth quarter. Frese said the Terps had no answer, no matter the type of defense they tried to throw at the visitors.
“It wasn’t our night,” Confroy said. “But it keeps us humble.