Maryland women’s basketball nearly blew it.
Six fourth-quarter turnovers and a scoring drought of nearly three minutes helped shrink an 18-point lead into three in the final two minutes of the Terps’ Tuesday game against Rutgers.
But through it all, Bri McDaniel kept her cool. The sophomore got to the line for four free throws in the last two minutes and made them all to give her team a much-needed cushion.
The Terps ultimately prevailed over the Scarlet Knights, 67-59, in New Jersey. Maryland’s second road victory of the year snapped a four-game losing streak, its longest in more than 20 years.
“It shows that we’re getting better and we’re connected and we’re a great team. Just finishing off the opponents, playing hard, doing the little things,” Jakia Brown-Turner said about the team’s ability to hold off Rutgers’ comeback.
While Rutgers has just one conference win in what’s been a disappointing year, the win marks an important step for Maryland, still battling for postseason placement with less than a month left in the regular season.
It didn’t start exceptionally well for Maryland, which shot just 6-for-20 in the first quarter but gave itself numerous extra possessions with seven offensive rebounds. The Terps finished with a season-high 25 offensive rebounds.
“I thought we were just quicker … a lot more aggressive on the glass, which we need to be. It’s an area we’ve been talking about,” coach Brenda Frese said.
Jakia Brown-Turner and Lavender Briggs led the charge for their team, each securing five rebounds in the first quarter. Briggs finished with nine rebounds.
Brown-Turner tallied her third double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The NC State transfer has scored in double-digits in her last eight games. She is averaging 19.25 points and 7.5 rebounds per game over that stretch.
Faith Masonius, who’s come off the bench for much of the season, started for the first time since Dec. 20 and added five offensive rebounds. She played 17 of 20 first-half minutes and was the only Terp who played in the first two quarters that didn’t have a foul. But Masonius still fouled out after playing 29 minutes. She had six points, seven rebounds, three assists and four steals.
Frese said Masonius was the right matchup to play against the Scarlet Knights. The coach said she’d continue adjusting the starting lineup based on the Terps’ opponent moving forward.
The Terps finally regained their accuracy in the closing minutes of the second quarter, making three straight baskets to separate themselves from the Scarlet Knights. They led 37-28 at halftime.
Maryland surged after the break with a 7-0 run. The Terps controlled much of the third quarter with six steals that fueled a potent transition attack.
But even as the visitors extended their lead to double-digits, they still couldn’t consistently find the basket. Maryland missed five straight field goal attempts, which allowed a 7-0 Scarlet Knight run.
Rutgers offered some resistance. Jillian Huerter made three three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, more than her team made in the first 30 minutes and the Scarlet Knights got as close as three points.
Maryland didn’t make a field goal for nearly the last five minutes. It didn’t need to as McDaniel’s free throws and strong defense allowed it to pull away with a win.