No. 10 Terps get re­venge with dom­i­nant road win

MARY­LAND 62, RUTGERS 48

The Washington Post - - SPORTS - BY AVA WAL­LACE

pis­cat­away, n.j. — In Sun­day af­ter­noon’s bat­tle for Big Ten supremacy, the Mary­land women’s basketball team not only main­tained its hold on first place with a 62-48 win over Rutgers, the Ter­rap­ins ex­acted some re­venge.

Mary­land came out play­ing as if it had been wronged by the Scar­let Knights, and in a way, it had. On New Year’s Eve, Rutgers handed the then-No. 4 Terps their only home loss this sea­son and just their fourth Big Ten loss at home since they joined the con­fer­ence in 2014.

The No. 10 Terps (22-2, 11-2) haven’t been back in the poll’s top five since, but Sun­day’s drub­bing sent a mes­sage. Mary­land re­turned the fa­vor as it handed No. 20 Rutgers (17-6, 9-3) a loss at home for the first time this sea­son, and it did so with mus­cle.

“It just speaks vol­umes to the growth of our team since we last played them,” Coach Brenda Frese said. “There’s kind of defin­ing mo­ments in sea­sons, and for us, I just love the re­sponse that we’ve had where twice we’ve had to be taught a les­son of where we need to be, and the re­sponse out of our vets and the lead­er­ship that we have from this team is grow­ing.”

On Sun­day, Mary­land fixed what ailed it dur­ing the teams’ first meet­ing. The Terps, who have won seven in a row, were pas­sive and lethar­gic on the glass the first time around; on Sun­day, they bet­ter used their height ad­van­tage and out­re­bounded Rutgers 35-24. The Scar­let Knights’ post play­ers strug­gled on both ends all game.

“Those big peo­ple were too much for us,” Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer said.

That en­ergy the Terps showed while re­bound­ing lasted well af­ter their lead eclipsed 20 points to­ward the end of the third quar­ter. One of the Terps’ big­ger cel­e­bra­tions of the af­ter­noon came af­ter Bri­anna Fraser, who was wide open, took a few drib­bles to drain the clock be­fore nail­ing a jumper at the buzzer. Her shot put the Terps up 53-34 af­ter three quar­ters, but she was en­gulfed by team­mates and awarded a chest bump from Mary­land’s trainer as if it had been a game-win­ner.

The game ac­tu­ally was de­cided well be­fore half­time. The Terps outscored the Scar­let Knights 18-4 in the first quar­ter thanks to an ag­gres­sive three-quar­ter-court press and tight de­fense in the lane. Rutgers shot 2 for 12 and looked rat­tled as Mary­land ran time off the shot clock and poked the ball away for four steals. Af­ter the Terps, who led 34-21 at half­time, opened the third quar­ter with a Kaila Charles jumper, they led by at least 14 points the rest of the way.

“They were much bet­ter, tighter de­fen­sively,” Stringer said. “There were times when they would dou­ble, we would drive, and they did a nice job of stop­ping the pen­e­tra­tion . . . and that’s what caused us to turn the ball over in­stead of be­ing able to see it, keep the ball, back it out and con­tinue to move it. We needed to con­trol the game bet­ter; we didn’t. We blew the first quar­ter, and that’s the best way to say it. ... Ob­vi­ously, Mary­land showed up big time.”

All of that gave Rutgers its sec­ond Big Ten loss in a row, fol­low­ing a 60-46 de­feat a week ear­lier at Min­nesota. Arella Guirantes led the Scar­let Knights with 20 points off the bench; their lead­ing scorer, Stasha Carey, had 15 points, 13 in the sec­ond half.

Mary­land held three Rutgers starters score­less and a fourth, Ciani Cryor, to two points. Charles said the dif­fer­ence be­tween Mary­land’s de­fense this game and when the teams met pre­vi­ously came down to at­ten­tion to de­tail.

“We re­ally fo­cused in on hav­ing ball pres­sure, be­ing there, get­ting over the screens, and I think the guards to­day did a re­ally good job of ex­e­cut­ing,” she said.

The ju­nior led Mary­land with 17 points, and Stephanie Jones had 12. Blair Watson added nine points, in­clud­ing two three-point­ers, and a team-high eight re­bounds.

The Terps re­turn home to face Ne­braska on Thurs­day be­fore vis­it­ing an­other Big Ten heavy­weight, No. 16 Iowa (19-5, 10-3), on Sun­day. The Hawkeyes’ 78-52 win at Ohio State on Sun­day kept them just a game be­hind the Terps.

“I love that we’re in con­trol, just get­ting bet­ter and con­trol­ling what we can con­trol,” Frese said. “When we play like this, great things are in store for us. But there are no easy games re­main­ing.”

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