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Drexel falls to No. 8 Maryland 69-63

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP)

Drexel's freshmen are growing up quickly.

Alexis Smith scored 19 points and Sarah Curran added 16 points, both season highs in just their fifth collegiate games, as the Dragons fell just short of a huge upset in a 69-63 loss to No. 8 Maryland on Monday night.

''Lex and Sarah are a little wet behind the ears,'' coach Denise Dillon said of their performance. ''They don't know any different.''

Alyssa Thomas scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Maryland (5-1), which may have had one eye on its weekend trip to Puerto Rico for the San Juan Shootout.

But the comeback by Drexel (2-3) was impressive nonetheless, cutting a 16-point first-half deficit to three late in the second half while hitting seven of 12 3-point attempts after halftime.

Smith, who scored 16 of her points in the second half before a boisterous contingent from her nearby hometown of Lusby, Md., said this can be the norm for her.

Drexel may need it to be after losing two-thirds of last year's offense, including departing 1,000-point scorers Hollie Mershon and Taylor Wootton.

''I can't have a freshman mentality,'' Smith said. ''I just have to go out there and know like, what I'm supposed to do.''

Added Dillon of the duo: ''That's the reason why we're putting both of them in the position to be out there so early. . In the amount of minutes that they'll see leading up to conference play, they can not play like freshmen anymore. We're relying on them.''

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 10 of her 12 points for Maryland after halftime to help the Terrapins (5-1) survive and send Drexel to its first consecutive losses in its first game against a ranked opponent.

Brene Moseley added five of her eight points in the final two minutes to help the Terps assure themselves of a three-game win streak heading into games against Texas Southern and Ohio.

''I'm proud of our team in terms of how we finished,'' said Maryland coach Brenda Frese. ''To be tested like this early, you get to see a lot about your team. ... But I thought Drexel was terrific tonight.''

Curran scored Drexel's first 11 points, but the Dragons still found themselves down by 16 before Smith capped a 5-0 spurt to make it 34-23 with a bank-shot 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Dragons then cut the deficit seven three times early in the second half, closed to within four for a second time when Meghan Creighton's 3-pointer from the top of the key made it 58-54, and were within 60-57 after Abby Redick hit a pair of free throws.

''The rim got a lot bigger,'' said Frese, who added that Maryland's strategy of going to a full-court press backfired. ''Those late breakdowns we had off our press really gave them momentum and confidence to be able to get confident with what they were doing.''

Thomas answered with a leaning jumper off the glass, and after Smith's running layup cut it to 62-59, Moseley hit an outside jumper. Thomas and Moseley each sank a pair of free throws--Thomas after grabbing a crucial offensive rebound--to stretch it back to 68-59 with just more than a minute remaining.

Drexel made one final push, with Curran hitting a layup off an inbounds play and Carrie Alexander adding a basket off a late steal to cut it to 68-63 with just seconds to play.

But Moseley hit another foul shot late, and Drexel ran out of time to become the second team to beat the Terps at home after top-ranked Connecticut did so on Nov. 15.

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