By Luke Gentile
The Maryland women’s basketball team (23-6, 12-4 Big Ten) got back in the win column and secured the second seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament Sunday as they defeated the University of Nebraska 77-75.
In the emotionally charged final game of the regular season, and during senior night, the Terps came out determined not to disappoint a crowded Xfinity Center. Freshman guard Channise Lewis got the Terps rolling with an early steal and layup, bringing the crowd to its feet.
The rest of the team followed suit as the next three possessions all lead to 3-point baskets. The Terps surrendered the lead only once in the first half, and they shot 49 percent from the field.
“Coach set the tone early in the locker room, saying, ‘Don’t be sad it’s over, be happy that it happened,’” said senior guard Kristen Confroy. “I think that was the message that our whole team had today. You could feel the energy and the effort in our team, and it was an incredible way to go out. A little closer than I like, but I’m so proud of how we came together to pull out this tough win.”
The Terps were able to maintain a slight lead throughout the game, but the Cornhuskers went on an 11-2 run late in the fourth quarter and took the lead with only 49 seconds left to play.
However, strong defense from sophomore forward Stephanie Jones and clutch shot by sophomore guard/forward Kaila Charles, who led the team with 19 points, ensured a Terrapin victory.
“Steph’s defense was huge,” said Maryland head coach Brenda Frese. “When you talk about those late-game sets, she helps be that glue on the back line, but, I just thought collectively we continued to have each others’ back this game.”
Defense was the deciding factor in the win as Maryland controlled the boards, out rebounding the Nebraska 47-33. The most crucial of which was Confroy’s, which took the ball away from a potential game-winning Nebraska shot with three seconds on the clock.
The Terps will celebrate this senior night victory and then turn their attention to Indianapolis, where next week they will compete in the Big Ten tournament. Having secured the second seed, the players and their coach are very optimistic.
“I’m incredibly proud of this team, and they have so much left,” Frese said. “I know a lot of teams, when they have a setback, could easily splinter, but this team continues to show who they are and work for each other… we are nowhere near finished with what lies ahead for us.”