The No. 20 Maryland Terrapins had gotten good chunks of scoring from each of their top four scorers on the season and had been scoring in a variety of ways by the time it came down to their possession with 6.5 seconds remaining and a chance to defeat the Purdue Boilermakers (RV), which would give legendary head coach Brenda Frese 600 career wins Thursday night at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Abby Meyers had 19 points on three threes, a couple fast break layups, a mid-range jumper, a short bank shot and a turnaround inside shot, the last of which had given the Terps a 74-73 lead with 1:59 remaining. Diamond Miller had 18 points on two threes, three layups, a mid-range jumper and four free throws. Shyanne Sellers had 12 points mostly on aggressive drives through contact, plus a jumper in the paint and two free throws. Brinae Alexander had 11 points on three threes and a layup.
Of the scoring options that are within those players’ repertoires, the most glaring thing missing was a Sellers three. She had just missed one at 36 seconds remaining that had seemed like a good idea. She made 32 treys at a 31.7 percent clip last year as a freshman and has great form.
So, after Maryland drew up a play, not for Miller, who is the team’s best player and made the buzzer-beater to take down Notre Dame exactly a week ago,,Notre Dame but for Meyers, Meyers ran into trouble in the paint, found Sellers on the right wing and Sellers buried the perfect nothing-but-net three at the buzzer to give Frese her 600th win.
Purdue leading scorer Lasha Petree, who you may know from her exploits at Bradley, had made 1-of-2 free throws at the 1:05 mark of the fourth quarter to tie it at 74. Sellers’ triple brought the final score to 77-74 and gave her 15 points and a 1-of-3 night from beyond the arc.
After two straight quarters of never leading but keeping the game within single digits in a back-and-forth battle, Maryland stepped it up a notch in the fourth. It trailed by four entering the frame and only took until the 7:02 mark to take the lead on a Lavender Briggs transition layup. Maryland’s top hustle player, Faith Masonius, had barely kept the ball in bounds on the other end before Sellers got the ball up the court so Briggs could finish. It was the team’s first lead since 20-19 in the first quarter. Masonius finished with a game-high 10 boards.
The Terps went on to lead 67-65 on a deep Meyers three. Meyers came up big again by fighting for an offensive rebound in a crowd of Purdue jerseys. Though she had no hope of securing the board, she managed to get fouled as the ball was knocked out of bounds. Miller then made a layup on the possession to increase the Maryland lead to 69-65.
The shortest player on either roster then gave the Terps déjà vu as she allowed the Boilermakers to yet again pull ahead by a few as they did repeatedly throughout the second and third quarters. It was 5-foot-6 Abbey Ellis; she made a three as she was backing into the right corner to cut it to 69-68, then made a layup and another three to make it 73-69 Purdue with 3:26 to play. It wasn’t until Alexander cut it to 73-72 with a triple at 2:42 that Maryland could breathe a sigh of relief. The déjà vu was over.
After Sellers’ missed three at 36 seconds remaining, the ball went out of bounds and there was no need for the Boilermakers to rush because the score was tied. They would have run it down to about four seconds remaining had they scored or missed at the buzzer. Instead, at 6.5 seconds remaining, the ball went through Madison Layden’s hands and out of bounds on a kick-out to the perimeter. That opened the door for Sellers’ heroic shot.
Purdue opened the second quarter by scoring first to go up five. Rickie Woltman got an offensive rebound and followed it with a layup. Maryland would fight to keep it close throughout the frame, but the Boilermakers would lead by five again after Jeanae Terry free throws at the 5:19 mark, by six after Petree free throws at the 2:47 mark and by six after a Caitlyn Harper layup at 1:29. Harper missed her and-one free throw, so Purdue had a chance to go up seven. Instead, it led by just three at the break after a Miller 3-point play.
The third quarter was basically the same as the second, with Purdue never trailing and at times going up by five, six, seven or eight. Alexander opened the frame with a three, Purdue’s Cassidy Hardin answered with a three and then Miller hit a three, leaving the game tied at 41. Purdue then went on a 5-0 run. It would later lead 50-44 on Harper free throws and 54-46 after a 4-0 run.
Purdue led 23-20 after a first quarter Miller barely played in because she picked up her first foul early. It could have been worse for the Terps as the Boilermakers led 19-12 only to see Maryland answer with an 8-0 run. First, Masonius came flying in for an offensive rebound, readjusted under the basket, laid it up and made her free throw after being fouled. Then, Sellers was backing down on the left block and found Meyers coming down the floor on the same side. Sellers dished it to Meyers, who made her short bank shot while on the move, cutting it to 19-17. Meyers followed with a three on Maryland’s next possession to give the Terps the lead.
It took the Terps 3:12 to score their first points. An Alexander three off a backcourt turnover gave Maryland a 5-4 lead and Elisa Pinzan made a nice shot from nearly out to the arc to cut a Terp deficit to 8-7, but Petree answered the latter with a three to put the Boilermakers up 11-7.
Miller finished with six boards and five assists, while Sellers also had five helpers. Sellers and Meyers each grabbed two steals.
Ellis led Purdue with 18 points, while Terry led it in assists (six) and steals (three).
The Boilermakers outshot Maryland 55.3 percent to 41.7 percent from the field, but committed 22 turnovers, losing that margin by seven. Maryland won offensive rebounds 15-5, second chance points 17-6 and fast break points 15-2.