The Maryland women's basketball team took a huge blow when it announced guard and second-leading scorer Blair Watson would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL on Thursday.
It endured another hit just hours later when Michigan State snapped the No. 11 Terps' 13 game win streak with an 82-68 victory in College Park.
Forward Brianna Fraser finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, while guard/forward Eleanna Christinaki notched 13 points and forward Stephanie Jones added 12 points and nine rebounds.
However, Watson's contributions have been instrumental in Maryland's season, and coach Brenda Frese could sense her injury disrupted the Terps' continuity.
"There's a flow to when you're kind of in that [rhythm] throughout this many games," Frese said. "It's going to take time to be able to get that rhythm and consistency back."
The Terps got off to an electrifying start, thanks to Christinaki, making her first start as a Terp in Watson's absence. She helped the Terps (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) gain a four-point lead.
That was as large as Maryland's advantage got.
The Spartans (13-5, 3-2 Big Ten) battered the Terps down low and didn't give an inch on defense. Maryland had improved its ball security, but it turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and trailed by seven at the break. Turnovers proved part of Maryland's undoing, as it finished with 24.
When they held onto the ball, without Watson, one of the nation's top 3-point shooters, the Terps struggled offensively. Guard Kristen Confroy, who holds Maryland's highest 3-point shooting percentage this season, finished 2-9 from long range.
Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said she found out about Watson's setback just before the game, so the Spartans keyed in on Confroy.
"[Watson's] a big part of our team, on and off the court," guard Kaila Charles said. "Everybody steps up when their number is called. It's just — today wasn't one of those days."
The third quarter gave the Terps a glimmer of hope when they scored 11 unanswered points.
But Michigan State answered. The Spartans scored 10 straight points to distance themselves further from the Terps, and they led, 61-49, heading into the final period. Spartans guard Taryn McCutcheon scored a game-high 25 points, while guard Shay Colley added 17 points and seven rebounds.
Fans filed out of Xfinity Center with just over a minute remaining as the Terps lost for the first time since Nov. 19.
Frese said the defeat demonstrates the depth and prowess of the Big Ten.
Maryland may have to continue tinkering with the starting lineup, which Christinaki is all for. Despite earning her first ever start, she said a bench role is fine if it helps the team make up for the loss of Watson.
"We will figure it out," Christinaki said. "It was just a difficult day for all of us."