COLLEGE PARK, Md. – No. 7 Maryland women’s basketball used a strong first half to go toe-to-toe with No. 1 Connecticut, but fell behind late in the second to fall, 72-55, at Comcast Center Friday.
Preseason All-American Alyssa Thomas came out aggressive from the tip, scoring all seven of Maryland’s first points. She had a double-double in the first half, and wound up with 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Terrapins (2-1). Senior Katie Rutan added 11 points.
Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart scored 26 points, Moriah Jefferson had 15 and Bria Hartley had 10.
“This was a missed opportunity for us, but they are the defending national champions for a reason,” head coach Brenda Frese. “I thought we played really well for the first 25 minutes of the game and then UCONN did what they do. They make runs at you. They don’t make mistakes. When you see six turnovers for a 40 minute game, they don’t beat themselves.”
“Alyssa Thomas was terrific. This is a game she had been looking forward to and she put the team on her back in the first half. I have said this all along: they went from nine All-Americans to seven.”
Over the first nine minutes, there were four ties and nine lead changes. The Huskies created some separation with an 8-0 run for a 23-17 lead. Thomas answered hit two straight jumpers, and Maryland closed to 30-29 before Stewart nailed a 3-pointer to keep UConn in front. Maryland trailed 43-38 at half.
The game was tied at 43 before Stewart scored off her own miss, Dolson made two straight baskets and Jefferson sank a layup. Thomas ended the run with a jumper, but two free throws by Stewart and a 3-pointer by Brianna Banks gave the Huskies a comfortable 11-point cushion.
The short-handed Huskies used a 13-2 run early in the second half to take a 56-45 lead, and Maryland never get closer than nine points.
Frese, who is currently in her 12th year as the women's basketball head coach at the University of Maryland, recently signed a multi-year extension to her contract, director of athletics Kevin Anderson announced Friday.
The extension keeps Frese on the Maryland sidelines through at least June 2021. With the extension, she could earn up to four years, through June 2025, with rollovers.
After Friday’s matchup, the Terrapins will welcome George Washington to Comcast for a 7 p.m. game Tuesday, Nov. 19, which will be shown live online for a fee on umterps.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.