The No. 8 South Carolina Gamecocks won the first big-time matchup of the women’s college basketball season on Sunday, defeating the No. 4 Maryland Terrapins on the road — 63-54 in College Park.
South Carolina shuts down Terps
Aliyah Boston, a 6-foot-4 freshman and the nation’s No. 3 recruit, led the victors with five blocks after notching 10 in the Gamecocks’ season opener. She also led the team in points (14) and secured seven rebounds, while helping to hold 6-foot-5 Maryland sophomore Shakira Austin to two points on 0-for-3 shooting from the field.
On the perimeter, South Carolina impressively held another Terp sophomore, Taylor Mikesell, to zero points on 0-of-4 shooting from 3-point range. Mikesell is typically Maryland’s sharpshooter and one of the best all-around offensive players on the team. Her scoring zero points in 20 minutes spelled disaster for the home team.
Senior Tyasha Harris (13 points) and freshman Zia Cooke (10 points) joined Boston in double-figure scoring for the Gamecocks. Harris added six rebounds and four assists, while Brea Beal (eight points) led the team in rebounds with 10 boards. On the Maryland side, Ashley Owusu notched a game-high 17 points, while senior Kaila Charles scored 11 points and freshman Diamond Miller added 10 in defeat.
South Carolina led the entire way, and by as many as 14. They led by just three points after one quarter, but used a 16-9 second quarter to expand the lead to 10 by halftime. Maryland’s defense played well in the second half and the Terps cut the Gamecock lead to six with 1:40 remaining in the third, 9:49 remaining in the fourth, 3:59 left in the fourth and 3:11 left in the fourth. But Maryland couldn’t get any closer than that: South Carolina pulled away with free throws.
Both teams struggled from the field (31.7 percent for South Carolina to Maryland’s 31.4) and from distance (12.5 percent for Maryland to South Carolina’s 11.1). One key difference is that the Gamecocks got to the free-throw line 18 more times than Maryland and made 24 of their 30 attempts (80 percent).
South Carolina out-played Maryland in what amounts to a huge resume-building road win. The Gamecocks won the battle between their No. 1 ranked freshman class facing Maryland’s No. 3. South Carolina lost seven players from last season, including leading scorer Te’a Cooper, who transferred to No. 2 Baylor, and still were able to avenge last season’s regular-season loss to Maryland.
Tough loss for Maryland
The Maryland program under Brenda Frese has always prided itself on historically-dominant rebounding. But in a huge early-season game on national television, the Terps fell short in that category. They were out-rebounded by South Carolina 54-38.
The Terps’ disappointing showing after a phenomenal season opener is going to sting because they don’t face another ranked opponent until their meeting with NC State Wolfpack on Dec. 5. Additionally, the Big Ten isn’t expected to be as good this year as the Pac-12, SEC and ACC. Maryland does have more versatile players than last year and that’s not going to change. But they missed some easy buckets in transition on Sunday and they are aiming to be a transition team this year.
Owusu has led the Terps in points in both of her first two collegiate games. She has the poise of an upperclassman and, if anything, she has looked a little too laid back at times. Owusu was slightly more aggressive on Sunday, but still not playing up to her potential, which should be scary for Terp opponents. Owusu scored 18 and 17 points, respectively, in Maryland’s first two games and appears to be a talented distributor as well.