Kaila Charles put up a Herculean effort, but that wasn’t enough to upset South Carolina. Maryland lost 94-86 Monday night.
Big Ten champions … meet the National champions.
Faced with their first top-25 matchup of the young season, Maryland (1-1) went down by as many as 26, fought back to bring it within three, but eventually lost to defending champion South Carolina (2-0), 94-86.
On the backs of All-American forward A’ja Wilson (32 points, 12 rebounds) and Kentucky-transfer Alexis Jennings (12 points, 13 rebounds), South Carolina took command of the game from the opening tip. The dynamic duo accounted for 40 of their 51 first-half points.
The Terrapins had no answers. Outside of Blair Watson (14 points) and Brianna Fraser (seven points), offense was hard to come by.
In only her second collegiate game, freshman guard Channise Lewis was inserted into the starting lineup.
“Yea I got my first start tonight. Coach B told me this after the Albany game, the next day,” Lewis said, when asked about when she found out she would be starting. “she said she liked the way I held myself in there late game [and my] confidence. She wanted me to take the lead in this game.”
Lewis finished with seven points on 3-of-5 shooting and two assists, in 18 minutes
Unlike the season opener, Stephanie Jones was ineffective. Her totals of eight points and three rebounds fail in comparison to her mammoth performance against Albany (11 points and 18 rebounds).
With only 36 points at halftime, the Terps seemed to be done.
The second half was a totally different story. Maryland flipped the script and took a stand — one that had coach Dawn Staley and her Gamecocks in a battle they didn’t see coming. Anchoring the tremendous comeback was sophomore guard Kaila Charles.
One and-1 after another, Charles racked up points and put Maryland on her back … and they followed her lead. She provided the bulk of the offense and her teammates ramped up the defensive pressure.
Charles poured in 27 of her career-high 31 points, fueling a 26-10 run that brought the game within four, 90-86.
From there, South Carolina scored the last four points of the game at the line while Maryland missed two field goal attempts.
According to Maryland Women’s basketball final stats, 8,677 people were at Xfinity Center tonight. No surprise there, marquee matchups typically bring about a spike in attendance. Maryland showed up as well, but unfortunately, it was too little too late.
Albeit a heartbreaking loss, Maryland sent a message tonight — they’re ready for anybody. Apparently, coach Staley wasn’t all too surprised with the difficulties Maryland presented.
“The reason we set this game up so early is we wanted to test ourselves,” Staley said, when asked about scheduling Maryland.
High praises from a champion coach … not bad. Not bad at all.