- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2018

COLLEGE PARK, MD. — A streaky shooting night doomed the No. 10 Maryland women’s basketball team in a tough loss to Purdue, 75-65.

The Terrapins (22-4, 11-2 Big Ten) saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end after leading by as many as 10 points in the third quarter. The Boilermakers scored the final 10 points of the game after Maryland tied the game at 65 with a key play under the basket.

Kristen Confroy and Brianna Fraser did the offensive lifting in the first half when top two scorers Kaila Charles and Eleanna Christinaki looked miserably cold from the floor. But in the second half, while Christinaki found her shooting stroke and Charles hit important shots, the rest of their support dissipated.

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Maryland coach Brenda Frese was disappointed after an “uncharacteristic night for us.”

“We kept changing our defenses (but) we didn’t have a response,” Frese said. “We went man, they were beating us off the bounce. We went zone, and they were hitting threes. I thought they just were tremendous with their energy they came in with.”

Charles finished with 14 points and eight rebounds to lead Maryland, Christinaki and Confroy had 13 and Stephanie Jones added 12. Fraser scored 11 points off the bench.

All of Confroy’s 13 points came in the first half, in which she went 5-for-5 from the floor and 3-for-3 from long range, but she shot 0-for-4 the rest of the way. Conversely, Christinaki and Charles scored 10 points apiece in the second half.

“For a lot of our season it’s been, you know, I have a big first half, then Kaila has a big second half, or whoever it may be,” Confroy said. “I think a lot of it is taking what the defense gives you. Obviously I had a hot hand in the first half and just couldn’t capitalize as much in the second half, which normally I don’t have to, because really everyone else starts knocking down shots when the floor opens up.”

Purdue struck a quick 5-0 run to take a 12-8 lead midway through the first quarter, but Maryland made sure the momentum stayed back-and-forth. Boilermakers senior guard Andreona Keys scored seven points in the first, including three free throws that represented the difference in the 20-17 score through one quarter.

Confroy scored Maryland’s first field goal of the second quarter. She tried to dish a pass out of the paint to her right, but a defender batted it back at her, so she caught it and laid it in herself. Although Plan A wasn’t to take her own shot, it turned out Plan B got something rolling for the Terrapins. Confroy then hit two straight 3-point attempts during that run that gave Maryland its first lead in 5:36 of game time, all part of a 10-2 run.

The Terrapins showed the crowd they were rolling again with a smooth play that saw Confroy feed the ball to Fraser to assist Charles on a layup. Maryland went 7-for-15 from the floor in the second quarter and committed just one turnover, while Purdue only made 3-for-11 and turned over possession four times. This gave Maryland the halftime lead, 34-29.

The Terrapins led 34-29 at halftime and started to draw away halfway through the third quarter. But the Boilermakers, down 45-35 at their lowest point, ripped off six points in one minute to kick off a 14-2 run that brought them all the way into the lead.

Fittingly, Christinaki was the one to end the run. She found her stroke and scored her first points since the first period on a bucket-and-foul conversion. This put Maryland up 50-49 through three quarters.

Down 62-57 in the late fourth quarter, Maryland clawed back with consecutive baskets. A Christinaki free throw tied the game at 62, but she missed her second shot. Purdue took the lead on a 3-pointer by Dominique Oden, but Charles drove to the basket on the next possession, made the layup and added a foul shot to tie it again.

But Oden hit another 3-pointer to return the Boilermakers to the lead, and Maryland couldn’t replicate the Charles play on its next drive. The Terrapins’ plays on their following possessions also came up short, and Purdue padded its lead with seven free throws.

Keys led Purdue with 17 points and Karissa McLaughlin added 15 with three 3-pointers.

Maryland finished with 39.7 percent shooting and 28.6 percent from three. Over the Terrapins’ seven-game winning streak, they shot 48.2 percent overall and 57 percent from deep.

Maryland’s final three games pit them against three of the top five teams in the Big Ten. The team travels to Minnesota and No. 23 Michigan before closing the regular season hosting Nebraska on Feb. 25.

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