With Maryland playing shaky and facing a possible first loss, freshmen Destiny Slocum and Kaila Charles steadied matters with poised contributions that got the fifth-ranked Terrapins past Louisville.
Charles scored the go-ahead basket with 2:20 remaining, and Slocum followed with seven of her 13 points to help Maryland beat Louisville 78-72 on Thursday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The Terrapins (7-0) seemed in control with a 62-53 lead entering the fourth quarter before Louisville rallied to lead twice, including 67-65 with 3:15 left. Charles followed Brionna Jones’ game-tying layup with another before Slocum’s three-point play provided a 72-67 edge that she added to with four more free throws in finishing with 13 points. Charles scored all eight points after halftime.
“You know, it’s just playing basketball,” said Slocum, who made six of her final seven free throws after missing her first two. “I mean, I’ve been in this moment before. I have two veteran players on our team that really led us. We knew what to do because they told us what to do. … And in that moment we needed to lock in, play defense, have good offense, and I think that’s what we did.”
Indeed, those newcomers followed good examples set by Maryland’s upperclassmen.
Senior guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (26 points) made two free throws with 4 seconds left to seal Maryland’s victory in the first regular-season meeting between the schools. Jones, another senior, added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Terps, who made 23 of 28 from the foul line.
“I thought our vets, Shatori and Bri, really led us in the first half so we could settle in and see all these new players from game to game,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “Kaila Charles took until about the third quarter to be able to step up. Kristen Confroy (six points) gave us great minutes, her boards. … You’re going to see that with our depth all season where different players (are) ready when their number is called.”
Asia Durr scored 20 points and Myisha Hines-Allen 16 for Louisville (6-2), which lost its second game in five days against a Top 5 team. They also fell for the third time in four games against Maryland.
“The sad thing about it is we came up with like six stops, seven stops in a row, starting the fourth quarter,” said Louisville coach Jeff Walz, a former Maryland assistant. “But then when it becomes crunch time, you take a two-point lead and God forbid, that’s when you have to get one. And we just refuse. It’s our upperclassmen, unfortunately.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Maryland: The Terrapins shot at least 50 percent in the first three quarters before cooling off to 31 percent in the fourth and allowing Louisville to rally. They still finished at 48 percent. Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones combined for 10 unanswered points during a game-changing run in the second quarter and led by as many as 10 twice in the second half. The Terps offset 18 turnovers by owning the boards 48-35 and keeping their main players in the game despite foul trouble.
Louisville: The Cardinals stayed close by forcing 10 Maryland turnovers in the first half, but fouls were a concern with four having at least two at the break. Mariya Moore eventually fouled out after scoring 13 points. The Cardinals shot 39 percent overall and just 36 percent in the final quarter. Their lone bright spots were a 44-32 edge in the paint and 20 points off turnovers.
Maryland figures to stay near the top five, while Louisville could take a tumble out of the top 10. The Cardinals still have to face No. 17 Kentucky on Sunday.
MORE TO SAY
Walz’s postgame comments about his players’ resolve evolved into a rant in which he blasted what he considers an entitled culture.
“Right now, the generation of kids that are coming through, everybody gets a damn trophy, OK?” Walz said. “You finish last? You come home with a trophy. You kidding me? What’s that teaching kids? … It’s OK to lose. And, unfortunately, it’s our society. It’s what we’re building. And it’s not just in basketball; it’s in life.
“Everybody thinks they should get a job. Everybody thinks they should get a good job. That’s not the way it works. But unfortunately, that’s what we are preparing for.”
Maryland: Returns home from its four-game road swing for an intrastate meeting against UMBC on Sunday.
Louisville: The Cardinals’ challenging stretch continues Sunday at home against in-state rival and No. 17 Kentucky, which has won the last five in the series.