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How could this have happened? After looking like a championship caliber team against Alabama, the Terps were reduced to a pedestrian performance by a sixth ranked Texas Longhorns group of over-achievers. The talent was definitely on the side of the Terps. But the scrappiness and toughness and will to win of Texas prevailed as Texas eked out a 64-61 victory

Here is my breakdown of what went wrong:

  • The impressive 9-0 run by the Terps at the start of the game proved to be a curse instead of a blessing. It is a documented phenomenon in sports that often when a favored team starts out with such an easy run of success they experience a let-down and cannot marshal the toughness and fight needed to maintain their intensity and focus for the rest of the game. Things just came too easily for Maryland early on. Maybe they were basking in their press clippings from the most recent blog.

  • This game exposed the main coaching Achilles heel of Brenda Frese. I love her demeanor, her superior recruiting, her ability to knit the team together as a family. But she lacks the technical X’s and O’s to make necessary in-game adjustments at times. Often she delegates some of those details to an assistant coach. But in this game she served more as a cheerleader on the sidelines then as the necessary tactician. For some reason, she kept all of her timeouts in her pocket and didn’t offer any solutions to the way the Longhorns were carving up the Terrapins. They were beating Maryland off the ball with their quickness and driving to the basket with great success. Finally late in the game she tried to switch to a zone defense, but she never was able to stop the momentum of Texas.

  • Texas was able to control the tempo of the game so that Maryland was held to its lowest point total of the season. They are used to jacking up many more shots so that volume can hide some of their technical deficiencies. Still Maryland was impressive with the number of times they were able to generate fast break points off of made Texas field goals. They would grab the ball out of the net and take it the length of the floor for an easy layup in record time.

  • The team statistics were remarkably close in most categories except for in three point shooting percentage where Texas held a commanding 40% to 22.7% advantage. Benzan and Bibby were both only 2 for 7 from long range. That probably hurt the rhythm of the Terps more than any other factor. Even though the rebounding stats were even, it seemed like Texas dominated on the boards at crucial times. The athleticism of the lanky Terps (Miller and Reese) did not equate to toughness on the boards.

  • Maryland committed 19 fouls to the 12 by Texas — who consistently put the Terps under pressure with their drives to the rim.

  • Maryland had sub-par performances by many of their star players. Owusu was held to 10 points and at times was a liability on defense — reacting very slowly to the drives by Texas. Reese had a dreadful performance — shooting 0 for 6 and getting dominated on the boards. Her thin frame did not allow her to finish around the rim and she got pushed around under the boards. Collins was never the factor that she played in earlier games.

  • The Texas defense was as advertised. Maryland had difficulty getting good looks in their half court offense.

  • Even when the tight roster of the Longhorns (they did not rely much on their bench) was hit with some late injuries, they hung tough and refused to wilt.

  • Texas had too much grit; too much toughness; too much fight for the Terps on this particular evening.

That’s why they play the game!

Texas head coach Vic Schaefer hugs Joanne Allen-Taylor after an NCAA college basketball game against Maryland in the Sweet 16 round of the Women’s NCAA tournament Sunday, March 28, 2021, at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Texas won 64-61. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)