Maryland comes undone, 77-63 Turnovers, missed shots send Terps home.
OREGON 77, MARYLAND 63
bridgeport, conn. — The third-seeded Maryland women’s basketball team almost always had been able to lean on Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones during the most meaningful moments this season. Uncharacteristically, the senior duo were not up to the task in a 77-63 loss to No. 10 seed Oregon on Saturday, bouncing the Terrapins from the NCAA tournament’s round of 16.
The Terrapins amassed their fewest points in a game this season after entering Webster Bank Arena with the top scoring offense in Division I (90.1 points). Walker-Kimbrough shot just 6 for 18 for 16 points and committed five of Maryland’s 21 turnovers. Maryland (32-3) had committed 19 over its previous two games, its fewest in any two-game stretch this season.
Jones, meanwhile, misfired from close range in shooting 8 for 16 to finish with 16 points. The three-time Big Ten first-team selection came in shooting a fraction below 70 percent to lead Division I. She did manage a game-high 15 rebounds.
The collective swoon from two of the most decorated players in program history left Maryland, which missed all six of its threepoint attempts, one win short of advancing to its seventh region final. Instead, the Ducks (23-12) will face Connecticut, the top overall seed in the tournament, Monday night for a trip to the Final Four out of the Bridgeport Region.
“Like I just told the team in the locker room, I’m not going to let one game define the season we had,” Terrapins Coach Brenda Frese said. “I’m extremely proud of this team and everything we’ve been through. I’ll tell you this: Oregon is for real.”
Maryland had its season end for a second straight time to a Pacific-12 opponent. Last year, seventh-seeded Washington dispatched the second-seeded Terrapins in the second round, 75-65, in College Park on the way to advancing to the first Final Four in program history.
Trailing by 14 in the fourth quarter against the Ducks, Maryland closed the deficit to six points with 3:19 to play, but Ducks freshman point guard Sabrina Ionescu sank a difficult jumper in the lane to stem the comeback.
Oregon scored the final eight points of the game to continue a historic season in which it reached its first regional semifinal.
Ionescu led all players with 21 points and added seven assists and six rebounds, outplaying Maryland counterpart Destiny Slocum (nine points, three assists, five turnovers). Ionescu was the top point guard coming out of high school last season, according to ESPNw.com’s rankings. Slocum was No. 3.
Maryland’s six-player recruiting class, meanwhile, was rated No. 1 in the country last season. Oregon’s seven-player class was third, and it got 16 points and eight rebounds from another of those freshmen, forward Ruthy Hebard, against the Terrapins.
The Ducks led 59-47 at the conclusion of the third quarter thanks to a 13-4 run that featured junior Lexi Bando sinking consecutive three-pointers from virtually the identical spot in the deep left corner. Before those baskets, Oregon scored seven in a row, with Oti Gildon’s three-point play opening a 43-37 lead with 5:50 to play.
The final minute of the quarter was indicative of the Terrapins’ travails throughout much of the game. First while driving to the basket off a turnover, WalkerKimbrough had the ball stripped. Then with nearly four seconds left, Slocum heaved and missed a three-quarter-court shot rather than dribbling for an attempt from closer range.
“Their defense was pretty good, making my shots difficult,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “I give credit to their defense.”
Maryland went into the half trailing 36-27 after Ionescu sank her third three-pointer of the game. That basket capped the Ducks’ 10-4 burst to end the second quarter during which time Frese called a timeout to try to rally her players. But after the stoppage, the Terrapins committed a turnover, and Oregon got guard Justine Hall’s layup.
Other than Jones, Maryland’s starters shot 2 for 15 in the first half. Charles missed all five of her field goal attempts, and WalkerKimbrough went 1 for 6. She also committed three of the Terrapins’ 11 first-half turnovers. Even Jones was missing shots from close range that typically have been automatic.
“I think early on I just wasn’t being as patient as I normally was,” Jones said. “Credit to them. They came out hard on defense.”
Still almost fittingly, Jones and Walker-Kimbrough managed to tie for the program’s individual scoring record for a season, with both finishing with 697 points. Vicky Bullett had the previous mark with 681 in 1987-88.
Walker-Kimbrough completed her career as Maryland’s fourth all-time scoring leader (2,156 points). Jones wound up tied with Bullett for sixth in program history in points (1,928), and her 1,209 rebounds are third all time at Maryland.
Both are projected first-round picks in April’s WNBA draft.
“The thing that really sucks that was going through my head at that last minute is that we sent them out this way,” said Slocum, who ended the game by dribbling out the final seconds. “And you know, it sucks when you have two amazing people and two amazing players, and you know they deserve so much more. And, I mean, we clawed and we fought for them, and I wish we could have done more.”
The Maryland women’s basketball team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament by a Pacific-12 opponent for the second straight year.