Miller’s strong third quarter leads No. 2 Maryland past No. 7 Arizona 77-64
By Brandon Alter
Special to The Sports Pulse
[Missed the game? See more from Maryland vs. Arizona in our photo gallery!]
The Maryland women’s basketball team found itself facing a halftime deficit at home for just the second time this year Sunday afternoon. However, in the third quarter, Diamond Miller, Maryland’s only returning starter from last season, put the Terrapins on her back.
Miller scored 13 points in the frame without missing a shot, adding two assists and providing strong defense. The No. 2 seed Terps turned the one-point deficit into a 19-point lead and were able to close out No. 7 Arizona 77-64.
“Your All-American does what she is supposed to do,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said of Miller. “Third quarter was Miller time coming out 9-0 to start the third. Like we have seen Diamond do so many times in this building, just will her team.”
Miller led all scorers with 24 points, followed by Shyanne Sellers with 15, while Faith Masonius and Brinae Alexander had 12 each. Miller also led the team in assists (seven) and rebounds (six).
“She’s the heart of this team. We needed her that second half,” Abby Meyers said of Miller. “You saw her talent and her ability to change the game. Change the momentum of the game and take over. Very lucky to have her on this team.”
Miller’s heroics were needed after a dismal second quarter for Maryland, where Arizona outscored Maryland 25-15.
Less than three minutes into the quarter, Shyanne Sellers picked up her second foul, forcing the Big Ten all-defensive team member to the bench. Arizona took advantage, going on a 19-7 run in 6:30 to turn an eight-point deficit into a 33-29 lead. The teams returned to the locker room with Arizona holding a one-point lead.
When asked about Arizona’s run, Frese said it shows how valuable Sellers is to the team defensively.
The Terps closed the half strong, preventing Arizona from building a significant lead.
“I think we took a step away from, and we weren’t playing our basketball for a few minutes,” Masonius said of the second quarter. “They definitely took advantage and made the score a little closer than we liked.”
Maryland’s second quarter came after they had the perfect start.
Arizona committed turnovers on their first three possessions, allowing the Terrapins to build a double-digit lead before the game was five minutes old. The Wildcats didn’t record their first field goal until 4:37 left in the first quarter. By the end of the frame, the Terps led 17-8.
“Making teams feel uncomfortable from the jump [is important to us]. Really set the tone for the rest of the game,” Sellers said of the opening quarter. “You want to dictate the game; you don’t want to be dictated to.”
In the fourth quarter, Maryland kept their foot on the gas. The Wildcats didn’t close the gap below 15 points until there were less than two minutes left in the game.
Maryland will now face No. 3 seed Notre Dame in the Sweet 16. The Irish have lost a pair of starters to injury and are a different team than the one the Terrapins beat in early December. With the injuries, the Irish have been playing three post players, which could pose problems for an undersized Maryland team.
“It’s going to come down to defense and rebounding. In March, it usually does,” Frese said. “… It’ll be a tale of two different teams. When you talk about five guards and three bigs on the court.”
Feature photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse