While the Maryland women's basketball team has outscored its opponents, 150-109, in the final three quarters of games this year, the Terps are 1-1.
They overcame a sloppy start in a 91-58 victory against Albany on Friday but could not complete a comeback against No. 4 South Carolina on Monday after falling behind by 16 in the opening period.
Maryland hopes to play a more complete game against Niagara on Thursday.
"These types of games, it's being able to learn from a first quarter where we dug ourselves in too big of a hole, to turning that around and waking up in the second quarter and getting to the second half," coach Brenda Frese said following the loss to the Gamecocks.
The No. 15 Terps mustered 14 points in the opening frame against Albany, then put up 13 in the first quarter against South Carolina.
Those early shortcomings stemmed from struggles on both ends of the court. Against the Great Danes, Maryland shot just 31.6 percent in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks shot 63.2 percent in their opening 10 minutes on Monday, finding a bevy of open looks.
Guard Kaila Charles, who finished with 31 points against the Gamecocks, didn't score in the first quarter of either of Maryland's contests. Still, Charles is excited by the team's ability to remain competitive after its slow starts.
"Especially with our third- and fourth-quarter run, it just shows we have a lot of fight," Charles said. "We need to be playing that type of game all four quarters, and we can be more successful."
Guard Blair Watson said the Terps have taken time to settle into games. But particularly against South Carolina, they were "ready to go and get after it" after getting the first quarter under their belt.
With the team's youth and lack of experience — it has just two returning starters from last season — Frese said the first two games have displayed the Terps' mettle and provided a snapshot of what the team is capable of, especially with its near-comeback against the Gamecocks.
"This team is really going to grow," Frese said. "We're still young in our backcourt, we're young in our frontcourt. The more games we can get under our belt for players to be able to play in these kinds of atmospheres and this kind of experience is going to be huge."
The Terps want to remedy their first-quarter sluggishness against Niagara on Thursday, an objective that carries added importance with a trip to No. 1 Connecticut looming on Sunday.
"When you look at how tough our schedule is in this nonconference, [the performance against South Carolina] should give us great confidence," Frese said. "Now we've just got to be able to build upon it to make it a 40-minute game."