It wasn’t until a late Terrapin run that Maryland secured the Elite 8 victory and a trip to Tampa. For the better part of the game, it was a game of runs. Every time Tennessee would make a run, Maryland would adjust and make their own run to retake the lead. And vice versa. Maryland’s Brene Moseley, “One thing that is special about this team is that we figure it out during the game. We jut had to grind it out.”
About that flow
The threes that were falling for the Lady Vols on Saturday against Gonzaga weren’t falling tonight. They went 4-22 from three for an 18% shooting percentage. Even from inside the arc, there were some clean looks that just didn’t seem to fall for Tennessee. “The ball just wouldn’t drop. We let the ball get stuck in our hand a couple of times and I had a lot of turnovers. (We) just couldn’t get in a flow,” said Tennessee senior Cierra Burdick.
That “flow” was disrupted by the pressure from Maryland’s guards. “We would fall down and then they would kick it out to the open player and hit a three,” said Lady Vols Coach Holly Warlick. “They hit big baskets when they needed to. That’s what great guards do. Big time players hit big time shots. And, they did.”
It wasn’t just the shots that were falling. Key rebounds by Maryland sophomore Brionna Jones came at opportune moments for the Terrapins throughout the game. Said Jones, “I think we just tried to get it inside out first. We just tried to work it in the paint in the first half and then we kicked it out in the second half.”
Early on, the pressure of Tennessee’s defense and the importance of the game seemed to get to Maryland. Coach Brenda Frese, “I thought that early in the game we were putting too much pressure on ourselves to be able to get back (to the Final Four). I felt our wiring was just – we were trying to play too flawless and as a result it was a really ugly game.”
Terrapins Adjust to the Pressure
When pressure comes, however, it requires adjustments — including getting stops and those key rebounds. “I thought we settled down in the second half and started really getting stops and rebounds,” said Coach Frese. And, players like star guard, Lexie Brown stepped up. “I just thought that I needed to bring more energy (than Saturday). Not even just the scoring end. I needed to bring my presence to the court in this game. They needed me to score in the second half so I took that upon myself – put the team on my back,” said Brown.
Challenge accepted by Maryland. Brown and her Terrapin teammates didn’t succumb to the pressure tonight. This challenge, at least, has been met. They’ll enjoy the win tonight and on the long flight home from Spokane tomorrow.
Then, it’s on to the next challenge.
For more photos from Myk Crawford, please visit his website here.