Maryland women’s basketball has fronted the post all season long. Its defense is predicated on denying passes inside and bringing a help defender behind the post player.

Coach Brenda Frese has made that a staple in her time in College Park. In the Terps’ NCAA tournament first round matchup with Iowa State, a freshman shredded that approach.

First team All-Big 12 selection Audi Crooks scored a career-high 40 points on 18-for-20 shooting. Iowa State’s star freshman caught the ball in traffic, powered through defenders and converted free throws in the final minute to end Maryland’s season in California.

The Cyclones, led by Crooks, overpowered the Terps as they collapsed in the second half, blowing a lead that grew as large as 20 in a 93-86 loss in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

“She’s one of a kind,” Frese said of Crooks.

It was expected that Friday’s game could be a shootout. Both defenses were the third-worst in their respective conferences and each team’s offense looked to take advantage of key mismatches.

Iowa State’s perimeter defense had been questionable all season. The Cyclones allowed opponents to shoot 31.7 percent from three — that ranked 12th in the Big 12.

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Maryland took advantage early and made six of their seven attempted triples in the first quarter, shooting more than 70 percent from the field in the frame.

But Crooks shined on the biggest stage on Friday by consistently attacking the Terps’ weak post defense. Maryland’s three-point shooting also flipped in Iowa State’s favor in the second half. The Terps made just two second-half triples, while the Cyclones knocked down seven to overcome a massive deficit.

Maryland had no way of defending Crooks. They fronted the post, but Iowa State lobbed passes over the top of Terp defenders. Even when the Cyclones couldn’t find her, they threw skip passes to open shooters that, eventually, fell.

Iowa State shot 58.3 percent from deep in the second half. Emily Ryan, the Cyclones other star, made three triples and scored 18 points.

“The skip shots were open and the shooters were knocking them down in the second half,” Ryan said.

“That was really the nail in the coffin,” Sellers said.

Crooks had been vulnerable to strong shooting opponents on defense, though. Faith Masonius hasn’t been a factor for Maryland from three, so it seemed unlikely the Terps would be able to take advantage.

Allie Kubek became that mismatch. She did not attempt a three in 17 games this season and never took more than five in a game.

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On Friday against Iowa State, the Towson transfer went 5-for-5 from deep in the first half and made a career-high seven threes as Maryland raced out to a large lead in the first half. The Terps led by 16 at the break.

Four of her first-half threes came from the left wing. Another came off a pick-and-pop look. Crooks struggled to defend on the perimeter and Kubek’s shooting forced the Cyclones to change to a zone defense in the second half.

“Everytime I shot it, I thought it was going to go in,” Kubek said.

Kubek’s performance was stunning, but it was one cog of a lethal offensive attack early on. All seven players that touched the court scored, including an efficient eight points from Masonius.

That balanced offense was bottled up by Iowa State’s zone in the second half, in which the Terps shot just 34.2 percent from the field.

Crooks went 10-for-10 from the field over that span and almost single-handedly propelled Iowa State to a comeback win.

Maryland’s season ended in the first round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001. The Terps controlled the entire first half, but Crooks’ incredible showing canceled out Maryland’s excellent opening 20 minutes and ended its season.