Maryland held the ball at half-court with three seconds remaining in overtime. Instead of inbounding to leading scorer Jakia Brown-Turner or Lavender Briggs, Brenda Frese chose to try an over-the-top pass to Allie Kubek for a potential game-winning layup.
The pass sailed out of bounds, giving Michigan possession and took no time off the clock. Laila Pheila drove through the Terps defense and drew a foul on Faith Masonius, and the Wolverines’ leading scorer converted both free throws to put her team ahead for good.
“I think the way [Kubek] had it sealed, Faith thought she was going to get that pass into her,” Frese said. “Then, you know, obviously you saw the turnover happen.”
Nothing that occurred in the first half of Maryland and Michigan’s Wednesday night clash could have foreshadowed its ending. The Terps opened with perhaps their best offensive half of the season, as they scored 46 points against the Big Ten’s top defense.
As strong as Maryland started the game, the final two quarters and overtime were just as poor. In a consequential game for their tournament hopes, the Terps failed to hold their commanding lead and wilted in the fourth quarter and overtime in a 79-77 loss to Michigan.
“Tale of two halves,” Frese said.
Maryland played the majority of the extra period without Shyanne Sellers, Bri McDaniel and Brinae Alexander. But against an offense that ranked in the bottom half of the Big Ten in scoring, Maryland gave up 12 points in overtime.
The third quarter was where the Terps let the Wolverines back into the game. Maryland scored just 12 points on 33 percent shooting in the frame, which featured McDaniel being ejected following a fight with Michigan’s Lauren Hansen after the whistle, as the Wolverines tightened their deficit to eight entering the final frame. They outscored the Terps 29-12.
“Honestly I don’t think [Michigan] did anything spectacular, I think we just had miscommunications on our defensive end,” Briggs said.
After Maryland’s offense dominated the first half, it dropped off significantly after the break. The Terps failed to score a field goal over two minutes of the final stretch of the game. With 28 seconds left, the game remained tied at 67.
That’s how it stayed to push the game to overtime, where Maryland eventually fell in its first overtime loss of the season.
The collapse overshadowed yet another strong performance from Brown Turner. Maryland’s leading scorer’s recent play has been what Frese envisioned when she joined the Terps prior to this season. Entering Wednesday, Brown-Turner averaged 18 points per game over her last three contests and led the Terps in minutes over their last two games.
Her start Wednesday against Michigan showed off the tools the versatile wing possesses. Brown-Turner made seven of her eight shots in the first half and finished the night with 21 points while adding five rebounds and a season high seven assists.
One play in particular showed the in-season improvement the graduate student has made. At 2:42 in the first quarter, Brown-Turner was swarmed by two Wolverines at the right elbow. She calmly located a wide open cutting Emily Fisher along the baseline for a layup.
Brown-Turner was one of Maryland’s biggest contributors to the team’s turnover struggles — she has 10 more turnovers than assists on the season, a 15 percent turnover percentage. But slowly, she has started to make the proper adjustment.
She again displayed those improvements in the second quarter. Brown-Turner reached the restricted area, but instead of settling for a difficult layup, she surveyed the defense and found Brinae Alexander on the wing for a three-pointer.
Maryland converted 50 percent of its threes and shot 63 percent from the field in the opening half, a stretch powered by Bri McDaniel, Shyanne Sellers, Briggs along with Brown-Turner. The four combined for over 80 percent of the Terps’ first half points.
But after losing two of those players for a large portion of the game’s deciding moments, Maryland gave away a game it once firmly controlled. The Terps lost their fourth conference game of the season, already surpassing their total from last season.