When a Maryland women's basketball player makes a layup through a foul and gets a chance at a three-point play, the Terps usually exude excitement and celebrate. But when forward Brianna Fraser did so with under a minute remaining in Sunday's blowout loss at Minnesota, she was met with light high-fives and few smiles.
Maryland trailed by more than 20 points and was on its way to its first back-to-back losses since 2014. The Golden Gophers dominated from start to finish, downing the Terps, 93-74.
"It's really, really tough to be able to win on the road [with] kind of the mentality you have to go in with," coach Brenda Frese said. "Minnesota was sensational in every effort tonight."
The No. 10 Terps (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) allowed the Gophers (21-6, 10-4 Big Ten) to bully them early with their primary post players, forwards Stephanie Jones and Brianna Fraser, in foul trouble. With reserve forward Aja Ellison away from the team on bereavement, the shorthanded Terps failed to defend the interior.
Frese acknowledged the foul trouble played a role in giving Minnesota the upper hand and said her squad had to use a lot of different looks because of it.
The Gophers outscored Maryland, 12-4, in the paint in the first quarter. As the Terps attempted to lock down the inside, the sharpshooting hosts — who rank third in the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage — began to exploit openings outside.
Minnesota's final five field goals of the first half were 3-pointers.
"We did have a game plan to try to run them off the 3-point line," Frese said. "They were able to really get downhill on us, penetrate and kick, get a lot of great looks and put them in."
Meanwhile, the Terps were hamstrung by an effective Minnesota defense. Guard Kaila Charles, the team's leading scorer and go-to player in every facet of the game, didn't score until nearly halfway through the second quarter. She finished the half with just three points and four turnovers.
Charles said Minnesota defended her by forcing her to her weaker left side. But she felt part of the ineffective start fell came from her getting in her own head.
"It was just me overthinking," Charles said.
Minnesota went into the locker room with 53 points, the most a Maryland opponent has tallied at halftime this season. Its 14-point deficit at the half was its third-largest during the current campaign. The hole only got deeper from there.
The Terps entered the contest allowing 62.5 points per game. By the time three minutes had passed in the third quarter, the Gophers had scored 63.
By the end of the contest, the Gophers had made 14 of their 24 3-point attempts and had three players eclipse the 20-point mark. Frese said "the basket was as big as an ocean" for Minnesota.
Only No. 1 Connecticut and then-No. 4 South Carolina scored more points against the Terps in a game this year.
Charles posted a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Jones scored 13 and guards Ieshia Small and Kristen Confroy each added 12 in the loss. Normally, the Terps thrive when sharing the wealth offensively, but Minnesota's shooting prowess proved to be too much.
"It is frustrating that we'd score and they'd score a three," Charles said. "It's hard to come back, but we just have to learn from it and move on."
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story said 14 points was the second-largest halftime deficit for Maryland this season. It was the third largest.