Maryland defeats Holy Cross in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament


Thirty-two seconds. That was all Maryland needed to force Holy Cross into its first turnover — a game that would turn into a pattern Friday at the Xfinity Center.

The second-seeded Terrapins were never behind in a 93-61 win over No. 15 Holy Cross in a first-round matchup of an NCAA tournament that wasn’t close from the opening pick. Maryland meets No. 7 Arizona in the second round on Sunday after the Wildcats defeated No. 10 West Virginia 75-62.

Maryland teammates and roommates Faith Masonius and Shyanne Sellers smiled and waved to the crowd after last summer’s beauty queens.

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Patriot League champion Holy Cross was immediately put on his heels as the Terps fanned out defensively and pressed the full court. The Crusaders could barely get the ball past midfield, let alone hold the ball. Turnovers piled up as Maryland jumped into the fast lane and blitzed a Holy Cross team that seemed unprepared for their length or defensive pressure.

“That’s the goal of our press, right?” said Maryland Guard Abby Meyers. “Make nerve. Speed ​​them up and get a 10 second call. It’s like the bread and butter of our defense.”

Maryland forward Brinae Alexander added, “We pride ourselves on being aggressive and having the first strike in a game.”

The Terps (26-6) opened the game with a 14-0 run that included seven Holy Cross turnovers. The result could have been more one-sided, but Maryland missed several layups and short jumps. When the buzzer rang at the end of the first quarter, Maryland had a 23-4 lead, and the four points were the second fewest the Terps have given up in a quarter this season. They only allowed two in the second quarter against Northwestern on February 9th.

Coach Brenda Frese said the coaching staff knew the Terps had a physical advantage over the Crusaders and wanted to start quickly defensively.

“Our length and our athleticism, we would be able to set that tone on the defensive end,” Frese said. “I just love the aggressiveness. And you could tell in training yesterday that we are ready to play.”

Holy Cross coach Maureen Magarity agreed that Maryland’s length was a big issue, saying her team needed more ball movement and held the ball too long when it needed to be reversed. The offensive never found its flow.

“It was a tough beginning of the game,” Magarity said. “And Maryland just did a great job with their printing. What we had prepared for. But it is difficult to prepare and simulate what they do.”

Five terps scored in double digits, and all 10 who entered the court scored. Meyers had 16 points remaining with three steals and two blocks. Diamond Miller finished with 13 points and eight rebounds while Sellers had 13 points, eight assists, two steals and a block. Alexander scored a game-high 18 points off the bench in her first NCAA tournament game after playing at Vanderbilt for four years before moving on. Masonius had 10 points and three steals.

“I was really excited,” Alexander said. “When you go in it’s easy to feel nervous and jittery but seeing the ball go in gives me a good boost of confidence, especially for me. It’s a great feeling to be out here.”

The Terps shot 52.2 percent from the field, though Frese emptied their bench with about seven minutes left in the game. Holy Cross ended with 24 turnovers and Maryland was down 37 points.

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Simone Foreman led Holy Cross with 13 points and Mary-Elizabeth Donnelly had 10 chips for the Crusaders (24-9).

“Their press and pressure really got through to us,” Holy Cross guard Addisyn Cross said. “Usually we’re not really used to seeing this and that type of athletics. They really just sped us up and that led to reckless sales on our part.”

Maryland is now 21-4 in first-round games and 18-0 since Frese took control of the program. She will face her alma mater on an Arizona team two years away from playing in the national championship game. The Wildcats (22-9) start with five seniors, four of whom are averaging double figures, and the team finished fourth in the Pac-12. Frese said the Big Ten’s difficult schedule prepared Maryland to play a team like Arizona. She also wondered about reunion plans she and her former teammates were making.

“We’re talking about an off-season reunion,” Frese said, laughing. “So we have to see who they’re cheering for in this game.” Maryland defeats Holy Cross in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament

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