GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Maryland players Abby Meyers and Diamond Miller expressed their frustration with the officiating in Monday night's 86-75 loss to South Carolina in the Elite Eight.
Meyers fouled out early in the fourth quarter, while Miller was limited in the first half with foul trouble. Maryland was called for 26 personal fouls, while South Carolina was called for 12. After Miller got a question in her postgame news conference about dealing with the physical way the Gamecocks played inside, she responded, "It's funny how you say that when all the fouls were going one way, I felt like."
Meyers then chimed in, "So we were the more physical team, apparently."
And Miller continued, "So we were really physical, because apparently they were getting all the foul calls. That just shows we have heart, we have grit, and just because they're taller doesn't mean we can't bang. If y'all didn't see that we were banging today, I don't know what could show you that. Yeah, clearly we needed to be more physical, I guess, on the offensive side, because every time they hit us, nothing was called."
Maryland coach Brenda Frese pointed to the second quarter as the turning point in the game. The Terrapins led 21-15 following the first quarter after deciding to set the tone with their pace, but the foul trouble then set in. South Carolina went to the foul line 14 times, making eight of those free throws. Meanwhile, Miller and Shyanne Sellers spent nearly the entire second quarter on the bench with two fouls each.
"You felt like you were coaching with one arm behind your back," Frese said of the second quarter. "When they were calling so many of them, you were kind of just juggling who you had on the bench and back and forth, and it kind of felt like that all game. You're just trying to see who you could keep in the longest.
"But that second quarter was costly, the amount of free throws. We're typically a team that gets to the free throw line 20, 25 times. We only got there 15 times, and it was five after half. They got there 26 times. Just difficult trying to kind of figure out who you could keep in there that wasn't going to get into foul trouble. We tried to mix up our defenses to keep us out of it, but they were able to exploit it from both ends."
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was not specifically asked about the officiating, but she did note how physical the game was from the very beginning and that it took time for the Gamecocks to adjust.
"Maryland came on and played extremely fast, just moving the ball up and down the floor," Staley said. "They were extremely physical, and I thought it just took us a while to really make adjustments to how they were playing us. We basically just fought aggression with aggression, because they were really aggressive. Over time, I just thought our depth and our ability to go inside and our ability to apply a little pressure [made] it a little difficult for them to straight-line drive us or just to get wide-open perimeter shots."
When asked for her overall frustration with the way the game was being called, Frese was more diplomatic.
"I don't pour into things you can't fix or control," Frese said. "You can only control yourselves. I wasn't going to spend any energy in that direction. A lot of those fouls were costly off [offensive] board putbacks. They have tremendous size that really impacted us, and I thought they took advantage. I think it made us tentative once Shy and Diamond were kind of held out in that second quarter with the rest of the group."
Miller expressed pride in the way her team played despite some of the calls she felt went against them. She led all scorers with 24 points, but both she and Sellers finished with four fouls. Faith Masonius also fouled out of the game.
"At the end of the day, I can't dwell on what the refs call," Miller said. "I'm not going to say the refs lost us the game. That's not what I'm saying by any means. I mean, they outrebounded us, as we kind of expected, let's be honest. But they outrebounded us, and they got more second-chance points. And it was our second quarter. They beat us 23-9. Nine points in one quarter is tough to come back from."