With 30 seconds remaining and her team down five points, coach Brenda Frese called a play to generate a corner 3-pointer for Taylor Mikesell.
The sophomore guard, who’s struggled from deep since the start of Big Ten play, shot it with unwavering confidence. She had space and shot it straight, but it came up just short as her team saw its comeback chances diminish.
The miss was one of a season-high 21 on the night from three-point range for No. 17 Maryland women’s basketball, contributing to a woeful 16 percent clip from beyond the arc. So, in their fourth conference game of the season, the Terps lost at Iowa, 66-61, on Thursday night despite a season-high 38 offensive rebounds and double-doubles from forwards Kaila Charles and Shakira Austin.
“Iowa was sensational tonight. I thought they punched first,” Frese said. “I thought our defense kept us in the game tonight [with] the kind of tough shooting night that we had. We missed a lot of layups and free throws. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stat of 59 boards, 38 offensive.”
Coming off a porous defensive first half against Ohio State on Monday, Frese called her team’s signature full-court press to start Thursday’s affair.
That strategy, coupled with the decision to start forward Stephanie Jones over guard Ashley Owusu, showcased a mindset for the Terps to attack the glass and utilize physicality against the Hawkeyes. The former worked to perfection, as Maryland dominated the offensive glass instantly, but the taller lineup couldn’t keep up with Iowa’s quicker guards.
The Hawkeyes’ senior tandem of Makenzie Meyer and Kathleen Doyle took control of the opening period, combining for 19 of their team’s 26 first-quarter points. Whether it was from behind the arc or on drives to the basket, Maryland defenders were consistently a step slow in their attempts to thwart them.
The Terps’ rebounding domination, however, allowed them to stay in the game early. Austin and Charles controlled the paint and earned several second-chance buckets, helping combat another poor shooting performance.
“If I could, I’d be able to fix it. Since we’ve gone into conference play, we’ve had way too many turnovers,” Frese said. “At the point guard position, we’re losing some of that offense with Taylor at the point and Ashley being a freshman. It’s just going to take time to be able to jell.”
Although Iowa extended its lead to as much as 14 in the second frame, Frese’s timeout following a sixth-straight Hawkeye triple recalibrated the defense and helped her team slowly chip away at the deficit.
Maryland minimized a 1-of-13 shooting performance from behind the arc in the first half with a plus-20 rebounding advantage. Down nine after shooting just 31.7 percent, Frese’s squad was still in the game.
“I just think we weren’t committed as a whole on the court,” Charles said. “We weren’t really communicating as much, so we had little slip-ups and they capitalized on it. And that’s what led to the fast start for them.”
Guard Blair Watson snatched the game’s momentum in the third frame, notching four of her career-high nine steals in the period and providing a spark on offense with five points. She helped energize the Terps as they battled back to take their first lead of the game, but they finished the quarter down two.
Coming off her best game of the season against Ohio State, Charles once again tried to will her team to victory with unwavering intensity and effort. Whether it was driving the lane, hitting mid-range jumpers or soaring for a career-high 18 rebounds, Charles was the motor that kept the Terps rolling.
Even with all the momentum in Maryland’s favor heading into the final 10 minutes, Iowa’s guards once again took over.
They kept the charging Terps at bay, led this time by guard Alexis Sevillian. Her back-to-back jumpers pushed her team’s leads to five midway through the final frame, and Maryland couldn’t lessen the margin any further.
Charles lost steam and shot just 1-for-6 in the final period as her squad tallied its fourth loss. Jones tried to replace the All-American’s production, adding six in the quarter, but it wasn’t enough with Mikesell and Owusu continuing to succumb to their offensive woes.
“I can’t be disappointed in our fight. I don’t think we played very well [but] had a chance to win the game,” Frese said. “We never quit fighting … when you lose and you know you’ve put everything out there, you can rest at night.”