– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — As she saw her team’s once-sizable lead cut down to the slimmest of margins, Maryland head coach Brenda Frese found a play to run for junior guard Kaila Charles to get the Terrapins back in control. Then Frese called it again. And again.
Charles scored 23 points, including 11 consecutive points in the fourth quarter, to lead the Terrapins to a 67-54 victory over Georgia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Thursday night.
“I was kind of in the zone,” said Charles, who drew seven fouls and made all nine of her free throws. “I was being more aggressive and my teammates were finding me and encouraging me to keep attacking the basket.”
The game seemed to be in hand at halftime for the Terrapins, when Maryland was up 38-18 and held the Yellow Jackets to 8-of-27 shooting in the first half. However, Georgia Tech’s signature pressure defense started to take a toll on Maryland as the Yellow Jackets cut their deficit down to three by the end of the third quarter.
Georgia Tech was down 47-46 with nine minutes remaining before Charles went on a personal 11-0 run, starting with a three-point play. Two more jump shots by Charles, mixed in with four free throws, pushed Maryland’s lead to 58-46 with just under six minutes left, effectively putting the game away. Charles scored a total of 13 points in the final stanza.
“The play call, we continued to run it until they could stop it. They couldn’t stop it,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “We weren’t going to go away from it.”
In the first meeting between the one-time ACC rivals since Maryland left for the Big Ten, the Terrapins never trailed but Georgia Tech made a game of it in the third when it went 10-for-16 from the field offensively. On the defensive side, the Yellow Jackets held Maryland to nine points in the quarter while also forcing eight of the Terrapins’ 20 turnovers.
“Our press made the difference, turning them over and getting them to take shots they didn’t want to take,” said Georgia Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph.
Freshman Taylor Mikesell scored 20 points for the Terrapins, while Yellow Jackets guard Kierra Fletcher led her team with 14 points. Fracnesca Pan, who averaged 16.7 points coming into tonight for Georgia Tech, was held to nine points while shooting just 3-for-14 from the field.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Monday evening’s game, with all photos taken by DC-Area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are currently nine pictures in total.