By Luke Gentile
The Maryland women’s basketball team (22-4, 11-2 Big Ten) failed to overcome a strong Purdue University defense Wednesday as it lost 75-65.
The game began with a quick steal from sophomore forward Stephanie Jones, who had a strong performance, shooting five for five from the field and only missing one free throw. However, this lead was short-lived.
The first half was a tug-of-war, saw the lead change 12 times, as each team shot 45 percent from the field, neither side with the clear advantage.
Senior guard Kristen Confroy helped the Terrapins reach halftime with a 34-29 lead, by connecting on three straight 3-point shots and a perfect shooting percentage from the field.
“For a lot of this season, I’ve had a big first half,” Confroy said. “You have to take what the defense gives you, and I was able to have a hot hand.”
Despite a strong start, Maryland could not hold on. Purdue soon took control at both ends of the court.
The Terrapins were held to 35 percent shooting from the field in the second half, and they were unable to hit a single 3-point shot for a 20-minute stretch.
Maryland coach Brenda Frese said that her team could not find an answer for the Boilermaker’s defense.
“We didn’t have a response, if we went man-to-man, they beat us off the bounce,” she said. “If we went zone they hit us with threes.”
Maryland was unable to make a single basket in the last two minutes of the game, and when Purdue’s sophomore guard Dominique Oden, hit two free throws, giving the Boilermakers a double-digit lead, the game was all but over.
“They’re a great defensive team,” Confroy said. “Some uncharacteristic misses didn’t allow us to pick apart their zone, which they had a lot of success in tonight.”
Tonight’s game was the Terps’ first meeting with Purdue this season, and both Frese and Confroy believe it serves as a good lesson for the final stretch of the regular season. With March quickly approaching, the Terps want to put this loss behind them and move on.
“This finish will tell us a lot about us. We want to be prepared for March; that’s the mission for us,” Frese said.
Maryland has a tough schedule over the next couple of weeks. The Terps will play two road games at Minnesota and Michigan, another top-25 ranked team, before returning home on Feb. 25 to face Nebraska.