Diamond Miller went 0-of-7 from the field in the first half Sunday afternoon at XFINITY Center in College Park, Maryland, but for the second game in a row for her No. 20 Maryland Terrapins, a first three from a key player, in this case her, was key to victory.
After four misses, Miller’s fifth and final attempt from beyond the arc rattled in with 34 seconds to go and gave the Terps an 83-76 lead over the No. 6 UConn Huskies en route to an 85-78 victory, which was the first over UConn in program history.
A DIAMOND DAGGER!!! pic.twitter.com/Sy4yh0gg89— Maryland Women’s Basketball (@TerpsWBB) December 11, 2022
Maryland forced 22 Husky turnovers and committed just five. It also made nine more threes by going 12-of-30 from downtown (40 percent). For the second game in a row, the Terps won while being outshot from the field by over 10 percentage points. They beat the Purdue Boilermakers on Shyanne Sellers’ first three of the game at the buzzer on Thursday for head coach Brenda Frese’s 600th career win.
Maryland has now defeated the No. 19 Baylor Bears, No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish and No. 6 UConn to outweigh bad losses to the DePaul Blue Demons and Nebraska Cornhuskers (RV, two points). It has to feel good about that even though the Huskies were missing a lot of key players.
Miller’s trey was so relieving for a team that had just seen UConn’s Lou Lopez Sénéchal — the Huskies’ leading scorer among players who were active Sunday — cut it to four with a three at 1:05 remaining. Before that, Miller (17 points, six rebounds, three steals, three blocks) had barely missed a difficult reverse layup and converted on the two free throws she was awarded on the play to make it 80-73 Terps with 1:14 to play.
Three Sellers free throws gave Maryland a 75-69 lead with 4:30 left and a Brinae Alexander three gave it a 78-71 lead with 3:55 left. Those contributions were key in maintaining breathing room late. UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards cut it to 78-73 with a layup after an offensive rebound at the 2:03 mark.
Edwards was spectacular for the depleted Huskies, who were missing Paige Bueckers, Azzi Fudd, Dorka Juhász, Ice Brady and Nika Mühl. She had a game-high 25 points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Terps Abby Meyers and Sellers stepped up during Miller’s cold first half. Meyers finished with a team-high 20 points (4-of-8 from three) to go along with six boards, three helpers and two steals. Sellers ended up with 19 points, six assists and two swipes. Alexander continued to make an impact from deep with three triples and 13 points. She also dished out four assists.
Aside from Edwards, Aubrey Griffin had the best game for UConn with 12 points and 15 rebounds. She and Edwards killed the Terps time and again with easy layups and the Huskies won the rebounding battle 46-24. Lopez Sénéchal added 16 points and three helpers and Caroline Ducharme had 13 points, seven rebounds and three helpers in defeat.
Ducharme made a huge play when she stole the ball near mid-court and took it down for a 3-point play that cut it to 70-67 at the 6:32 mark of the fourth. Lopez Sénéchal allowed UConn to cut it to three again with a foot-on-the-arc two at 5:22, but the Huskies would get no closer the rest of the way.
UConn scored the first two baskets of the fourth to tie it at 62. Maryland answered with an 8-0 run that began with Meyers flipping up a layup while falling down. She was fouled, missed the free throw and then, after Maryland got the rebound, assisted a Sellers three for a five-point trip down the floor. A Miller free throw and an Alexander mid-range fade later, the Terps led 70-62.
UConn trailed by as much as 12 in the third, but cut it to two twice toward the end of the frame. Maryland has been waiting for star Florida transfer Lavender Briggs to have a big impact and she made a three to push the Terp lead back to five with 1:25 remaining before the fourth. Maryland led 62-58 after three.
Maryland was down 23-19 when it went on an 8-0 run that began with a Meyers mid-range make after she faked a three and drew Edwards to the arc. Sellers then made a three after a Miller steal and Miller followed that by assisting a Meyers left corner three.
The Terps remained hot after that run, though UConn would fight back. Meyers answered three straight Husky baskets, one of which was a three, with scores of her own, two of which were threes, to leave Maryland up 35-30.
The teams exchanged scores for the remainder of the first half with the Terps hitting two threes to the Huskies’ zero, leaving Maryland up 43-36 at the break. The first of those treys for the Terps came from Elisa Pinzan, who was a capable scorer at South Floirda (10.3 points per game in 2020-21) but is averaging just 4.1 points this season. The second was a deep one from Meyers with 34 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Meyers finished the first half with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 shooting from three.
Miller scored the first field goal of the second half on a deep two from the right baseline. However, Lopez Sénéchal would draw the third foul on Miller soon after and send Maryland’s superstar to the bench.