March Madness: Maryland overcomes sluggish start, reaches Elite Eight with dominant 2nd half vs. Notre Dame
All the ingredients for an NCAA women's tournament upset were present early for Notre Dame. Maryland star senior Diamond Miller struggled from the floor and Notre Dame was in complete control on the boards. Turns out, Maryland just needed some time finding its stride.
After struggling early, Maryland turned in a dominant second half Saturday to blow out Notre Dame 76-59 to advance to the Elite Eight at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. Things didn't look so promising early. Both teams traded buckets in the first quarter. Heading into the second, Maryland held a 16-14 lead. There were signs, however, the team was vulnerable. Miller finished the quarter with 0 points and Notre Dame was off to a strong start down low.
Notre Dame nearly broke the game open with just more than four minutes to play in the second quarter. After making five straight basket and two free throws, the team jumped out to a 27-19 lead. Maryland stormed its way back before the half, sinking multiple 3s in the final minutes of the second quarter to cut Notre Dame's lead to just 1 point.
During the first half, Notre Dame did a fantastic job containing Miller. When the two teams met in December, Miller dropped 31 points against Notre Dame in a 74-72 Maryland victory. Miller was the only opponent to score more than 30 points against Notre Dame in the regular season. At halftime, Miller was 1-for-4 and had just 4 points.
Everything changed in the second half. After trading baskets early in the third quarter, Maryland started to pull away as the quarter came to a close. Maryland went on a 9-0 run from 4:11 to 2:38. It definitely helped that the team stopped Notre Dame from coming away with easy rebounds.
Maryland continued to put on the pressure at the end of the third quarter, and took a 57-45 lead into the fourth. They managed that despite Miller still struggling offensively. She finished the third with 12 points, but was 4-for-15 from the floor.
The fourth quarter brought more of the same for Maryland. With the team rolling, Miller seemed to find her stride, hitting both fourth-quarter shots and sinking two free throws. She finished the contest with 18 points, which tied guard Shyanne Sellers for the team high.
With the win, Maryland will play Monday in the Elite Eight against No. 1-seeded South Carolina after the Gamecocks beat UCLA on Saturday.