Terps Falter in Final Minutes

Despite leading for 18 minutes in the second half, the Terps were unable to hold on at the end.

The No. 8 Maryland women's basketball team led for nearly 18 minutes of the second half, but it was not enough as the No. 6 Miami Hurricanes staged a late run to steal the game away from the Terrapins, 76-74.

Turnovers and missed free throws did Maryland in the most, as the team committed 21 turnovers overall and shot only 67% from the free throw line.

It was a tremendous game,” said Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese. “From our end, we're obviously disappointed. We played with a lot of heart and intensity, but it got away from us. Late game free throws, layups, turnovers, obviously those possessions are costly in terms of putting a team away in your own building.”

Miami is best known for their star duo of senior guards Shenise Johnson and Riquana Williams, but it was guard Stefanie Yderstrom who had the biggest day of all in the end. Yderstrom scored a career high 26 points - 17 of which were in the second half - to help stun the Terps in the closing minutes. Miami's guards frustrated Maryland all night, as Yderstrom, Johnson, and Williams combined for 61 of the Hurricanes' 76 points - a “three-headed monster,” as Miami Head Coach Katie Meier called the trio.

[Yderstrom] is having a sensation junior campaign and she's really good. She is a source of energy for them and she played a flawless game,” said Frese.

The Terps tried to counter with their own offensive weapons, and for most of the game they did as much. Alyssa Thomas sparked Maryland out of the gate, scoring eight of her teams' 11 points through the first seven minutes, but the Terps still found themselves down by three. It was then that Lynetta Kizer took over the offensive load, scoring 14 points in the remainder of the half to help the Terrapins build a five-point halftime lead.

While they led for the first 18 minutes of the second half, the Terps also could not quite manage to distance themselves enough from the Hurricanes, either. A free throw by Thomas put them up by eight just five minutes in, but it was the largest lead Maryland would see for the rest of the way. Miami always seemed to have an answer to the Terps offense, keeping the game within two to six points while struggling to get over the hump.

“Both teams were battling their wills, and it was a back and fourth game,” said Frese.

But in the end, it was Miami's will that won out. Shenise Johnson hit back-to-back jumpers to give the Hurricanes a one-point lead with 2:09 to play, but a minute later Anjale Barrett drove down the lane and scored to put the Terps up by one with 54 seconds on the clock. Miami countered with a jumper by Sylvia Bullock, and both Barrett and Laurin Mincy missed shots on the other end to give possession back to Miami.

Maryland was forced to foul, and Johnson made both of her free throws to put the Hurricanes up three. Kizer missed a lay-up in the paint and then was blocked on her second try, forcing the Terps to once again foul. Riquana Williams hit one free throw, and a Tianna Hawkins lay-up on the other end with a second left would not change Maryland's fate, as they fell, 76-74.

I think down the stretch [Miami] stepped up and made plays like seniors do, like All-Americans do,” said Frese.

“Coach said it best, they made plays down to the end and we really didn't,” said Barrett. “The turnovers killed us. I take responsibility for that, because as point guard you're supposed to settle your team down.”

Hawkins scored a team-high 18 points for the Terps, while also grabbing ten rebounds. Kizer finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Thomas and Barrett each scored 12. Laurin Mincy added 11.

It was a tough loss to swallow for Maryland, as they now drop to 8-4 in the ACC while Miami improves to 11-1. Miami also now swept the season series against the Terps, who will only get a chance at redemption if they meet in the ACC or NCAA Tournaments. But for now, the Terrapins are focused on going forward with their schedule.

“When you go into a game giving your everything and leaving it all out there, it definitely hurts,” said Kizer. “But we're fine, this is one we're going to keep in our back pocket and we're going to come out stronger.”

One thing Miami was able to do particularly well was shut down the ACC's leading scorer, Alyssa Thomas. After her scoring burst to open the game, Thomas only had four points the rest of the way to finish with 12. She also turned it over six times and often appeared frustrated from the Hurricane's tight defense.

I give credit to [Miami], they were constantly keeping two girls on her and it was an extremely physical game. They did a terrific job in terms of what they wanted to accomplish on the defensive end,” said Frese.

There was a crowd of 11,008 on hand to watch the game - Maryland's biggest of the season - and Meier praised the game-time atmosphere of Comcast Center.

“We love playing here, “ said Meier. “It is such a special place to play. It's just a great atmosphere and I thought it was a good women's basketball game all around. Credit to Maryland for playing so tough and hosting a great game.”

The Terrapins will now look to re-group for a trip down to the University of Virginia, where they will play on Thursday night at 7 p.m.

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