The Maryland women's basketball team suffered its only conference loss to Michigan State at home on Jan. 11. With another crack at the Spartans in East Lansing on Thursday, the Terps were determined to avoid another upset loss.
Michigan State nipped at Maryland's heels early on and came within striking distance in the final stages, but a breakaway third quarter powered the Terps to a 76-68 victory over the Spartans, their sixth straight win since that January loss.
"It was a hard-fought game," coach Brenda Frese said. "It was extremely physical."
Last time the Terps (21-3, 10-1 Big Ten) played Michigan State (14-11, 4-8), they shot 29.4 percent from behind the arc. They opened Thursday's contest by making their first three attempts, courtesy of guards Channise Lewis, Eleanna Christinaki and Kristen Confroy.
From the outset, it appeared Maryland may run away with the contest, jumping out to a 17-7 lead.
However, the Spartans answered with an 11-0 run, including two 3-pointers from guard Taryn McCutcheon — who roasted the Terps for 25 points in January — in the final 33 seconds of the first quarter.
The Terps eventually re-established a 10-point lead but again allowed the Spartans to close the gap. Still, Maryland entered the break up seven after guard Ieshia Small beat the buzzer with a floater. And after intermission, Maryland again found its stride.
The Terps settled in and outscored Michigan State, 25-16, in the third quarter. By the end of the frame, Maryland already had five players scoring in double figures and was shooting 47 percent as a team.
The Terps led by as much as 20 and, though the Spartans steadily gained ground, they could never erase the cushion Maryland built during its stellar third quarter. Michigan State closed the gap to five points with 33 seconds to go, but that was as close as it got down the stretch.
Guard Kaila Charles led the Terps with 19 points and 11 rebounds after notching just nine in the first matchup with the Spartans. Forward Stephanie Jones added 14 points, all in the second half, while Confroy, Lewis and Christinaki also finished in double digits.
Frese's squad held the Spartans under 40 percent shooting from the field and three-point range and limited McCutcheon to eight points on 3-of-15 shooting. The Terps also forced 20 turnovers from the hosts.
"I thought we did a terrific job sticking to the game plan defensively," Frese said. "Kind of what we were looking at, making other players have to beat us. We were able to really lock in."