After the Maryland women's basketball team defeated Niagara on Nov. 16, guard Ieshia Small smiled as she described scoring 18 points in front of approximately 6,000 screaming elementary school students. She said she would probably never experience another game like that.
On Sunday, though, Small played in front of another group just as roaring and supportive — this time, it was family members from her hometown of Miami. Small erupted for 23 points and 10 rebounds, making 70 percent of her field goals in the Terps' 79-71 victory over Miami.
It wasn't the first time Small took over a game. When the No. 15 Terps (5-2) participated in the World University Games in Taiwan over the summer and faced Canada on Aug. 26, Small notched 25 points on 11-for-12 shooting.
"That's one of the things I think we do a really good job with," coach Brenda Frese said. "Feeding the hot hand and understanding matchup situations."
Once again on Sunday, Small succeeded.
Small often took the initiative to create her own shot. Several times, she took the ball behind the three-point line, faked a drive and generated the separation to pull up for a jumper.
Six of her seven made field goals were jump shots; the other was a drive where the defender gave her room.
Along with scoring, Small surprised guard Channise Lewis with her passing. At one point while driving with Lewis in a two-on-one, Small looked to her left and fired the ball to Lewis — a fellow Miami native — on her right, who finished the layup.
As a graduate of Dr. Michael M. Krop High School — which is about 23 miles from where the Terps played in the Miami Thanksgiving tournament — Small enjoyed the chance to play in the place she once called home. And before the game, the Terps enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with Small's relatives in Miami.
Small's mother, Michelle, passed away in 2011. When asked what pushed her to perform at such a high level, Small choked up.
"It was more inspired by my mom, for sure," Small said, fighting back tears. "This game was for her."
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of the headline on this story misspelled Ieshia Small's first name. The headline has been updated.