Coming into action tonight, Maryland had an overall 66-4 conference record. Three of those loses came at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes (twice in the 2015-2016 season and once in 2016-2017 season). But if you asked Frese the loss that hurt the most, it was just last month (January 11th). That was the day she found out one of her star players, Blair Watson, was lost for the rest of the season when she torn her right ACL during a practice session.
That night, the Spartans of Michigan State, came onto Maryland’s home court and for the most part, embarrassed the Terps, 82-68, for the only blemish on Maryland’s conference record this season (They destroyed Ohio State just a few weeks prior, 99-69).
Feeling like deja vu, Frese would only have eight of her players on Thursday night when Maryland would face Michigan State again, this time, on the road.
But this night would see Maryland (21-3 overall; 10-1 B1G Ten) play solid defense for three quarters and then hold off a feisty Michigan State (14-11 overall; 4-8 B1G Ten) squad for a 76-68 victory.
All five of Maryland starters would score in double digits, led by Junior F Kaila Charles, who had a double-double (19 points & 11 rebounds). Sophomore F Stephanie Jones and Senior G Kristen Confroy each contributed 14 points. Rounding out the double digit scoring was Freshman G Channise Lewis and Junior F Eleanna Christianki both had 11 points.
Senior F Taya Reimer led the Spartans with her own double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds). Sophomore F Victoria Gaines had 16 points and Senior G Brannadis Agee tallied 14 points, including a run of eight consecutive un-answered points from the end of the third quarter through the first few minutes of the fourth quarter that saw Michigan State erase a one-time 21-point third quarter lead down to five before the Terps would eventually pull away one final time.
For only the third time this season, Maryland was out-rebounded by their opponents, 40-37. But they were hot from behind the three point line, hitting six of their 12 shots from there. Maryland also helped themselves considerably by going 20 for 24 from the free-throw line.
It was close for the first few minutes but after Spartans Senior F Kennedy Johnson hit a jumper to cut the Terps lead to 5-4, Maryland went on a 12-3 run to take a double digit lead, 17-7. Not to be outdone, the Spartans would then end the quarter on their own 8-0 run, sparked by back-to back three-pointers by Sophomore G Taryn McCutcheon to to cut the Terps lead down to 17-15.
Twenty-five seconds into the second quarter, Michigan State would grab it’s one and only lead of the game when Gaines would hit a three-pointer and give the Spartans an 18-17 lead. After Christinaki missed her three-pointer shot and Jones grabbed the offensive board, she would pass the ball off to Charles, who hit a 15-foot jumper to put the Terps back up to stay for good.
With 2:02 left in the first half, Confroy would hit a three to give Maryland another double digit lead at 34-24. Michigan State went on a mini five-point run to pull within 34-29 before Terps Senior G Iesha Small would hit a 12-foot jumper at the buzzer and Maryland would go into the locker room with a 36-29 lead.
Maryland would continue to dominate throughout most of the third quarter, eventually holding it’s largest lead of the game after two Jones free throws made it 59-38. With just more than a minute left in the quarter, Jones would hit a lay-up, giving Maryland a 61-41 lead. But that’s where Agee nearly brought Michigan State back all by herself.
She would hit two free throws with just more than three seconds on the clock, then steal the ensuring in-bounds pass and hit a lay-up at the buzzer, cutting the Terps lead down to 61-45.
To start the fourth, she then hit another lay-up and two more free throws and like that it was now 61-49. Christianki would then miss a three-pointer, Reimer would grab the rebound and find Gaines open for a three of her own and suddenly the lead was down to single digits, 61-52, forcing Frese to call a time out.
Each time it appeared Maryland was able to push the lead back up to double digits, Michigan State would respond. Agee would hit a three-pointer with 36 seconds left in the game and the Spartans were within five, 71-66. Maryland would then hit five of its six free throws before Reimer hit a lay-up at the buzzer to make the final score 76-68.
Maryland concludes it’s three-game road trip on Sunday afternoon when they face the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers (18-8 overall; 6-6 B1G Ten) for a second time in 10 days (Maryland win 88-60 at home on February 1st).