With their arms linked, Faith Masonius and Bri McDaniel skipped to the sidelines to sing the Maryland fight song with the band after defeating Holy Cross.
When she finished singing along, McDaniel charged toward Shyanne Sellers and enveloped her in a bear hug as the pair celebrated McDaniel’s first win in the NCAA tournament.
No. 2 seed Maryland women’s basketball (25-6, 15-3 Big Ten) eased past No. 15 seed Holy Cross (24-8, 13-5 Patriot League), 93-61, on Friday to move on to the second round of the national tournament.
“This group just continues to want to compete and play hard for each other,” coach Brenda Frese said. “You can see why they’re just so much fun to coach.”
The Terps will take on No. 7 seed Arizona on Sunday in College Park.
Brinae Alexander led her team in scoring with 18 points, 12 of which came from behind the arc in her first NCAA tournament game. She was one of five Maryland players who finished the game with 10 or more points.
“I was really excited to especially play at home and have that home-court advantage,” Alexander said. “Once you see the ball go in, especially for me, it just gives me a boost of confidence, but I think it’s just a great feeling to be out here and to be on the floor.”
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Back-to-back steals from Masonius kickstarted the team’s offense early in the first quarter.
Thirteen seconds after making her first steal and turning it into a fastbreak layup, Masonius found another opportunity, disrupting a pass and handing the ball off to teammate Abby Meyers.
Meyers was fouled and made one of her free throws. When her second attempt bounced off the rim, Diamond Miller scooped up the offensive rebound and heaved it into the basket, resulting in a three-point possession.
The Terps’ early points allowed them to utilize their fullcourt press on defense. The press worked to limit the Crusaders’ time near the basket and forced giveaways.
Maryland’s aggressive defense prevented Holy Cross from scoring for nearly seven minutes of the game while forcing 11 turnovers in the first quarter.
While the Crusaders were eventually able to score, the combination of strong defense and timely shots led to a 23-4 lead for the Terps at the end of the opening frame.
Maryland stayed in the driver’s seat in the second quarter thanks to an offensive outburst from Meyers.
With a Holy Cross defender in her face, Meyers faked low as if she was going to pass before changing her stance and shooting the ball from behind the arc for her second three-pointer in the quarter.
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Meyers finished the quarter 3-for-4 from the floor and 2-for-3 from behind the arc, along with a pair of free throws for 10 points.
Holy Cross was able to score more than four points in the second frame, but Maryland entered halftime with a commanding 31-point lead in part thanks to Meyers’ precise shooting.
Despite trailing by more than 30 points, the Crusaders came back from the half determined. They hung with the Terps throughout the third quarter, as both teams scored 20 points and Bronagh Power-Cassidy, Holy Cross’ top scorer, finally made a basket.
Maryland hurt its chances to continue to dominate with increased giveaways. After just three miscues in the first half, the Terps finished the third quarter with eight turnovers.
The two teams finished the quarter with 20 points each, but Maryland’s early surge kept the game in its hands.
With a 72-41 lead going into the fourth quarter, coach Brenda Frese was able to unload her bench and give her freshman March Madness experience.
Ten different players scored as the Terps easily advanced to the second round of the national tournament.
“It’s really awesome when every person that saw the court today scored, you know, that just helps with our confidence,” Meyers said. “We definitely shook all the nerves off approaching Sunday’s game.”