COLLEGE PARK — Through 12 games this season, one thing is evident about the Maryland women’s basketball team: 3-point shooting will oftentimes be the make-or-break factor for the Terrapins.
If they shoot poorly from behind the arc, then losses like the 90-67 drubbing against Nebraska can happen. But if No. 20 Maryland is able to drill their deep shots, like it did Sunday with a dozen 3-pointers, then victories like the 85-78 upset over No. 6 UConn on Sunday are also possible.
“As long as we’re shooting the ball with confidence like we’re doing currently, that’s a great thing — when it’s going in,” Frese said. “Every game is going to be different. We’ve got to understand that we can’t live and die by the 3, because there are nights, like Nebraska, where it was off.”
The win over Auriemma’s Huskies is a first for Maryland and coach Brenda Frese. UConn, historically the best women’s college basketball program for nearly three decades, entered Sunday’s showdown 7-0 against the Terrapins.
“This was my first time playing against UConn, so I’m 1-0,” Terrapins star Diamond Miller said with a laugh.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s special,” said Frese, who now has 601 career wins. “To be able to do it here at Maryland on our home court with these guys, just the adversity that we’ve had to face as a team with injuries as well, this is one I will always remember.”
The Huskies, however, are dealing with a rash of injuries and were without several key players Sunday. In addition to 2020-21 National Player of the Year Paige Bueckers (torn ACL), UConn was without Azzi Fudd (20.6 points per game), Nika Muhl (10.2 assists per contest) and Dorka Juhasz (10.0) due to injuries. The absences were noticeable, as UConn (7-2) turned the ball over 22 times to just five for Maryland.
In total, the Terrapins shot 12-for-30 from deep. That percentage (40%) is the same as Thursday’s win over Purdue, in which Maryland went 10-for-25 from 3. Contrastingly, Maryland was just 4-for-16 from behind the arc in its 23-point loss to Nebraska last week.
“They made some big, big shots late in the game that made a big difference in the outcome,” longtime UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “If those shots don’t go in, maybe it’s different. But credit them, they made some big shots — big 3-pointers that went in that really were back-breakers.”
Abby Meyers, a transfer from Princeton, led Maryland with four 3-pointers and 20 points while playing all 40 minutes. But it wasn’t just Meyers. Six Terrapins players made triples in the win, including guards Brinae Alexander (three) and Shyanne Sellers (two).
UConn opened the game with a 15-7 lead, but the Terrapins closed the gap to end the first quarter. Sellers nailed her first 3-pointer of the afternoon to put Maryland up 24-23 — a lead the Terrapins wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the game. Meyers then made a trio of 3s in a second quarter that featured six Maryland triples.
“[Sellers] definitely broke the ice with that 3,” said Meyers. “I’m glad I could knock those down. It was definitely a big run. It felt good to see the ball go through, and the crowd was just so energetic on every make or steal or good play we had.”
UConn cut its deficit to just two points in the third, but 3s from Alexander and Lavender Briggs — transfers from Vanderbilt and Florida, respectively — kept the Huskies at bay. In the fourth, UConn tied the game at 62, but Maryland responded with an 8-0 run. Miller, who was just 3-of-12 shooting, then sealed the game with — yep, you guessed it — a 3-pointer to put Maryland up seven in the final minute.
“I would leave me wide open too if I kept missing the way I was missing,” Miller joked about her poor shooting day before that late 3.
Maryland (9-3) has now beaten premier programs UConn, Notre Dame and Baylor this season. But the up-and-down Terrapins also have losses to DePaul and Nebraska. The team now has just one game (versus Purdue Fort Wayne) in the next 18 days before a Big Ten campaign with six ranked games on the slate.
“It’s fun to beat amazing teams. Geno, alongside coach Frese, are amazing coaches and have amazing players come through their programs — and same thing with Notre Dame and Baylor,” Meyers said. “But at the end of the day, we just have to continue to be consistent and grow together. It’s a long season, and the Big Ten is not easy at all. We’re going to have our fair share of fights down the road.”