HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Maryland coach Brenda Frese was thrilled with her team’s effort despite a 15-point loss to No. 2 Connecticut.
“I’m proud of how we battled,” she said after the ninth-ranked Terrapins lost 63-48 Monday night. “I love the fact there’s no quit in this team. We worked defensively, scratched, clawed, did everything we can. Forced UConn into some difficult plays.”
Frese’s team has been hit hard by injuries so far this season. The Terrapins have already lost starting guards Brene Moseley and Laurin Mincy to ACL tears. They lost senior center Essence Townsend to one as well.
“I knew we’d compete and I knew we’d leave it all out there,” Frese said. “I’ve been a part of some special teams and I thought we could come in here and win this game.”
Despite the loss, Maryland (4-2) came closer than any other team this season against the Huskies, who hadn’t seen a team come within 30 points until Monday night.
“We’re adjusting to a new point guard, two guard,” Frese said. “Connecticut is a tremendous team, depth, talent, so aggressive on the glass. This is something for us to be able to build momentum on.”
Trailing by 13 at halftime, Maryland whittled its deficit down to seven before UConn (7-0) scored eight straight points, including a 3-pointer by Brianna Banks and a three-point play by Bria Hartley. Kiah Stokes capped the run with a lay-in midway through the second half. Kelly Faris had a hand in all three plays with an assist, steal and rebound.
Farris finished with eight points, eight steals, seven assists and seven rebounds.
“She doesn’t take a play off,” Frese said of Farris. “She continues to work defensively. She never takes a possession off.”
Maryland, which had a season-high 26 turnovers, couldn’t get within single digits after UConn’s run.
“That was a tough sequence. Banks was spectacular. That’s what Connecticut does,” Frese said. “They give you that knockout punch and you see teams never recover. I love the fact we were able to withstand a lot of those runs and were able to keep competing.”
Tianna Hawkins scored 14 points and freshman Chloe Pavlech added a season-high 10 to lead the Terrapins. All-America Alyssa Thomas was held to six points.
Without the guards, Maryland couldn’t take care of the basketball. The Terps came into the game averaging only 16 turnovers a contest.
UConn couldn’t take advantage early of the miscues. Leading 17-8, Maryland scored seven straight points to make it a two-point game. Stewart finally ended a 5 1/2-minute drought scoring seven straight points during a 10-0 run by the Huskies. She started it with a 3-pointer and connected on a falling down layup, following up her own miss. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis capped the burst with a 3-pointer that made it 27-15. The Huskies led 33-20 at halftime.
Mosqueda-Lewis didn’t return for the second half after bruising a left quad. She missed the Huskies’ previous game against Colgate after suffering a concussion against Purdue on Nov. 24.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said his sophomore guard is “doubtful” for Thursday’s game against No. 10 Penn State.
“To win a game like that is a good sign for us,” Auriemma said. “We didn’t win it the way where you go up and down and make a bunch of 3s. We had to earn it, beat a very physical tough team.”
Monday’s game had special meaning for Frese, whose 4-year-old son Tyler continues to battle leukemia.
“It means a lot,” Frese said. “Obviously, there was no question when we got the invite that we knew we wanted to play in it. And, obviously, for me personally with my son, Tyler, going through leukemia and with his diagnosis and his treatment I think it just helps us to be able to with a national audience and on TV to bring even more awareness to all the people out there that are battling cancer. And, obviously, our family is one that’s directly impacted, but the fact that we can play a game and bring exposure is really important and we’re just really fortunate to be a part of it.”
The teams will play again in the Jimmy V Classic next season at Maryland. This was the first meeting between the programs. UConn continued its domination of ACC opponents, winning its 20th straight over ACC teams, winning by an average of 28.0 points.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)