Trailing by 21 in the fourth quarter, Chloe Bibby finally connected from deep for Maryland women’s basketball. It was her first made three since the opening bucket of the game put the Terps in front, 3-0.
Prior to her bucket from the corner, Bibby had struggled to a 2-8 shooting clip. She wasn’t alone in her struggles as No. 2 Maryland failed to find consistent offense. Yet the door was still left open for a Terps comeback.
Right on queue was Diamond Johnson the other way. The Rutgers transfer splashed a three-pointer to push the margin back above the 20-point threshold. It was like that all day for the Terps as they tried to chip away at a huge deficit, but failed to come up with stops.
Bibby’s three-pointer from the first quarter was the last and only time Maryland held a lead as they trailed the whole way in a 78-60 drudging.
“I thought the first half they punched first, you know, they were very, very aggressive, I think it put us on our heels,” coach Brenda Frese said.
Just four days prior against then-No. 6 Baylor, Frese’s squad showed their toughness and resilience despite missing key contributor Katie Benzan due to illness. Benzan, along with Faith Masonius, didn’t travel with the team this week.
The offense operated with fluidity as Ashley Owusu and Shyanne Sellers facilitated in the half court and in transition with ease against the Bears. But matched up with the No. 5 North Carolina State Wolfpack (5-1) on Thursday in the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship, the Terps looked lost.
“They poured it on for 40 minutes and you need to be able to have that kind of depth to be able to compete with the depth and talent that NC State has,” Frese said.
Maryland (6-1) got off to a sloppy start, compiling just three points in the opening five minutes of play to go along with two turnovers.
Sellers hit a pair of threes to end the Wolfpack’s early 9-0 run and cut the deficit to two, but a 25% shooting mark plagued the Terps throughout the first 10 minutes.
The lack of resistance against a stout NC State team continued into the second quarter of action. Maryland’s offense remained at bay, particularly Angel Reese who had averaged 19.5 points per game, collecting just three points in the first 15 minutes.
“Defensively we knew who their key players were and so we just tried to lock in on them and help where we could,” NC State’s Elissa Cunane said.
Reese began to pick up the pieces and even led the team in scoring by halftime with 11 points, but it was as atypical of the Terps’ performance as ever, with Maryland trailing by 22 points heading into the intermission.
The Terps began to chip away at the lead with an and-one from Owusu midway through the third quarter, but typically impactful players like Bibby and Mimi Collins struggled to find their stroke with a combined 4-19 from the field.
While the offense had its share of limitations, the defense was no better. Cunane was a pest for the Maryland defense, compiling a team-high 20 points on five offensive rebounds.
Johnson led the way for the Wolfpack bench with 17 points, adding onto the plus-30 bench point margin.
Maryland had zero bench points in an undermanned effort. Reese continued to build on her phenomenal season with 24 points, and although the Terps performed better in the second half, they could never gain any considerable ground after falling behind early.
“We came out in the second half and gave everything,” Reese said. They punched first and we will learn from that … but I feel like everybody gave everything they could.”