Maryland Survives Michigan

The Maryland women's basketball team improved to 8-0 after defeating Michigan 74-65.

When two undefeated teams face each other, one is destined to end the night with their first loss of the season. Tonight, the No. 6 Maryland Terrapins made sure that team was not them. The Terps survived a scare from the Michigan Wolverines in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, keeping their record unscathed at 8-0.

The final score of 74-65 is not indicative of how close the game was throughout. In fact, Maryland found itself in unfamiliar territory when, for the first time all season, they did not lead at halftime, and were later losing in the second half. It was a gritty, back-and-forth game for both teams, and a true test for the Terps.

A tremendous win. What I liked about this game is from start to finish we had to work, and I thought we learned a lot about ourselves,” said Head Coach Brenda Frese. “It was a game that we had to compete and go after for 40 minutes. I thought even at times when we were struggling with our shot, with our defense, we gave just tremendous effort and intensity.”

The first half belonged to Alyssa Thomas, as she was firing on all cylinders from the start. She scored eight points in the first five minutes, helping the Terps jump out to a 20-12 lead. Michigan then scored seven straight points, capped by a three-pointer by Carmen Reynolds to cut Maryland's lead to one with nine minutes left.

The Terrapins never gave up the lead in the first half, but the Wolverines continued to stay with them every step of the way. Thomas continued to score, even hitting her first career three-pointer to put the Terps up 36-30.

At the time I didn't know it was a three, but when I looked up at the scoreboard I was pretty excited about that,” said Thomas.

Michigan closed out the half with six straight points, and the teams entered the locker room at halftime tied at 36. The Wolverines made six-of-10 from three in the first half, three of which belonged to Reynolds. Frese thought her teams' intensity could have been better at times.

I thought we kind of settled, we kind of got comfortable the last eight minutes of the first half,” she said. “We didn't fight, we wore down, and credit to them, they hit a lot of shots.”

Thomas led the Terps in the first half with 19 points and 7 rebounds. No one else on Maryland had more than five points.

The second half opened with Maryland facing an early deficit as the Wolverines went up 43-40. In response, the Terps reeled off a 10-0 run, thanks to Thomas and Alicia DeVaughn, who each had five points during it. But Reynolds hit another three, and back-to-back lay-ups for Michigan tied the score back up at 50 with 13:19 to go.

Maryland went ahead four different times in the next several minutes, only to be matched by the Wolverines each time. Finally, with the Terps up 60-59 and under six minutes left, they made a run to put them ahead for good. Laurin Mincy hit a three-pointer and Tiana Hawkins later made back-to-back layups to cap a 12-2 Terrapin run, putting them up 11 before winning 74-65.

I just loved the fact of how we were able to finish the game,” said Frese. “With our depth and down the stretch, we were able to wear them out and finish the game strong."

Thomas finished with a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds. Mincy added 11 points, while Hawkins had a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds. As a team, the Terps outrebounded the Wolverines 51-to-28, dominating the glass once again.

The Terps felt the close game was good for them, appreciating the test Michigan presented.

We've been working very hard and we've been waiting for someone to really challenge us. To get the opportunity on our home court, we were really excited about that,” said Thomas.

Michigan Head Coach Kevin Borseth was proud of his team's play, but also praised Maryland's talent level.

"I think Maryland's the No. 6 team in the country, I can see why,” he said. [Maryland] turned the defense up at the five minute mark and it got really physical at that point. We got bumped off a couple cuts, the kids might have been a bit tired … It's a good learning experience for our kids and something that we have to build off as we move forward."

Maryland next goes on the road to face American University on Sunday, and will look for their ninth straight win.

“There's always teams out there working to get better that we're going to go against,” said Frese. “We've got to stay humble in our approach and just continue to keep getting better."

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