Baylor Maryland Basketball

Maryland’s Ashley Owusu (15) goes to the basket against Baylor’s Sarah Andrews (24) and forward NaLyssa Smith (1) during Sunday’s second half.

COLLEGE PARK (AP) — Coach Brenda Frese figured her team would be healthier entering this exciting stretch of nonconference challenges.

No. 3 Maryland isn’t at full strength yet, but the Terrapins passed their first big test anyway.

Ashley Owusu scored 24 points and Maryland handed No. 6 Baylor its first loss of the post-Kim Mulkey era, 79-76 on Sunday. This was the start of a stretch in which the Terrapins face Baylor, No. 5 North Carolina State and No. 7 Stanford in the span of a week.

They also take on No. 1 South Carolina next month.

“I felt like, with everyone coming back this year, I didn’t want to be surprised in March, and it felt like a little bit that we needed better competition to prepare us,” Frese said. “I didn’t think we’d be so shorthanded in these games.”

The Terrapins (6-0) won this game without guard Katie Benzan, who was out with an illness. Guard Diamond Miller has been working through knee problems and played only 10½ minutes.

Two Maryland players went the full 40 minutes, and two others played over 39.

“It just says that we’ve got to be well conditioned and we can’t take plays off,” Owusu said. “We’ve got to play the same way from start to finish.”

The Terrapins led 76-65 before a furious Baylor rally nearly forced overtime. The Bears had the ball down by three, but Sarah Andrews missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds.

“We got a great shot for a great shooter, who had made a couple in the game,” Baylor coach Nicki Collen said.

This was the first significant test for the Bears (3-1) under Collen, who took over after Mulkey left for LSU. NaLyssa Smith had 30 points and 15 rebounds for Baylor, and Jordan Lewis added 29 points.

Owusu scored inside to give Maryland a 76-65 lead — and give herself 1,000 points for her career. Lewis then answered with a 3-pointer, and her three-point play made it a five-point game with 2:01 to go.

Smith made a layup after a Maryland turnover to make it 76-73, but then Angel Reese scored inside while drawing a foul on Smith with 1:08 remaining. The free throw pushed the lead back to six.

Lewis made another 3 to cut the margin to three, and the Bears had a chance to tie it after Owusu’s driving effort missed.

Maryland finished with four players in double figures. Reese scored 17 points despite picking up four fouls and playing just 19:11. Chloe Bibby scored 16 points and Mimi Collins contributed 10.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: Smith and Lewis provided plenty of offense for the Bears, but they finished with 15 turnovers to Maryland’s nine, and that made a difference in a tight game.

Maryland: The Terps won despite shooting 40% from the field. Maryland used only seven players, although Collen said Benzan’s injury affected Baylor’s approach, too.

“Honestly, a big part of our game plan was to post up Benzan,” Collen said. “They just put one more big player out there, so that made those mismatches way less of a mismatch.”

FREE THROWS

Maryland went 17 of 18 from the line and Baylor was just 4 of 5. That turned out to be crucial.

“We didn’t get to the free throw line. They were more physical than us,” Lewis said. “The tone was set from the beginning of the game.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Baylor has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for 131 straight weeks. The Bears probably won’t be punished too much for a road loss to the No. 3 team, but that streak could be in jeopardy.

UP NEXT

Baylor: The Bears face Fordham on Thursday at the Cancun Challenge.

Maryland: The Terrapins face N.C. State on Thursday at an event in Nassau, Bahamas.

UConn 60

South Florida 53

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma keeps pushing for Paige Bueckers and freshman Azzi Fudd to shoot more.

Games like Sunday are only going to make the Hall of Fame coach more persistent — especially considering how it helped the second-ranked Huskies grind through a tough tournament game against a ranked opponent.

Bueckers had 21 points while Fudd had a season-high 18 on six 3-pointers to help Connecticut hold off No. 23 South Florida 60-53 in Sunday’s semifinals of the inaugural women’s Battle 4 Atlantis. Both hit big shots during the second-half run that got the Huskies out of a surprising hole after squandering a 13-point first-half lead, helping the Huskies advance into an early marquee matchup against top-ranked South Carolina for the Atlantis title.

“I think being a great teammate is shooting every time you’re open when you’re a great shooter,” Auriemma said. “For young kids, I think it’s somewhat natural at times to not want to put yourself in that situation. ... Some kids just take a little bit longer to kind of see it. It’s not a bad thing, it’s what it is.”

The Huskies (3-0) had to fight to the final minutes to maintain a perfect mark against the Bulls (3-2). In addition to losing the first-half margin, UConn squandered an eight-point lead midway through the third after giving up an 11-0 run to fall behind 45-42.

Bueckers made 8 of 16 shots, her biggest being when she dribbled away from the corner and hit a turnaround 3 over Elisa Pinzan to tie it at 45 at the end of the third quarter.

The Huskies got the ball to start the fourth, and Fudd followed with a straightaway 3 — essentially a six-point possession that took momentum back from the surging Bulls. That was the start of a 14-2 burst, which included Bueckers scoring on a cut off a perfect feed from Olivia Nelson-Ododa in the post and Fudd adding another 3 to push the lead to 56-47 with 4:28 left.

Fudd finished 6 of 9 from 3-point range after scoring just 12 points on 13 shots through the first two games of the season.

“Coach has been telling me to shoot and every game so far I’ve been overthinking,” Fudd said. “... And when I got the ball and my defender’s hands weren’t there, to just shoot.”

Elena Tsineke scored 17 points to lead South Florida, which shot 37% but just 4 of 13 (31%) in the final quarter when the game hung in the balance. Bethy Mununga added 15 points and eight boards, helping South Florida control the glass and take a 15-6 edge in offensive rebounds.

“I thought we defended, we made multiple efforts in a lot of plays,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “It was your typical probably second or third weekend NCAA Tournament game.”

S. Carolina 80, Oregon 63

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Zia Cooke scored 20 points and Laeticia Amihere added 18 to help top-ranked South Carolina rout No. 9 Oregon 80-63 on Sunday in the semifinals of the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis women’s tournament.

South Carolina’s victory sets up a matchup Monday against No. 2 UConn for the tournament title Monday. The Huskies edged No. 23 South Florida in the other semifinal.

This was the first meeting between the Gamecocks (5-0) and the Ducks (3-1) since 2002. The two teams were favored to play for the national championship in 2020 before the NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Both are very different teams since then.

Oregon came into the game shorthanded.

Ducks forward Nyara Sabally sat out to rest her right knee, which she tweaked in the opening round win over Oklahoma. She had been considered day to day, according to coach Kelly Graves. After playing 37 minutes and scoring a a career-high 30 points in the win Saturday, Sabally was given the day off.

The Ducks already were missing sophomore guard Te-Hina Paopao, freshman guard Taylor Bigby and USC junior transfer Endyia Rogers because of injuries.

South Carolina was able to take advantage, jumping out to a 27-14 lead after one quarter. Oregon came within 32-23 midway through the second quarter before the Gamecocks closed the half with a 12-3 burst.

Cooke started the spurt with a layup, Amihere scored six straight points and the Gamecocks led 44-26 at the break.

South Carolina scored 11 of the first 13 points in the third quarter to put the game away.

Chanaya Pinto scored 12 points to lead Oregon.

TIP-INS

The Gamecocks won the only two previous meetings between the schools, with the last coming in the 2002 Paradise Jam. ... Aliyah Boston scored 16 points for the Gamecocks a day after having 23 in the opener. ... Graves reached the 600-win mark in the opening round of the tournament.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: The Ducks are gaining valuable experience for many of their reserves in this tough three-day tournament. They’ll be better once they get healthy.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks found different ways to win in the first two games. They used a dominant interior presence to rout Buffalo and then used strong play from their guards to beat the Ducks.

UP NEXT

Oregon: Faces No. 23 South Florida in the third place game Monday.

South Carolina: Faces second-ranked UConn for the championship Monday.

Follow me on Twitter @Bill_Haufe. Email me at bhaufe@stardem.com

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