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Three takeaways from No. 4 Maryland women’s basketball’s win over James Madison

The Terps continue their perfect start to the season.

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

No. 4 Maryland women’s basketball traveled to Harrisonburg, Virginia on Sunday for a matinee matchup against James Madison. Double-digit scoring from four players and a 30-plus point win helped the Terps capture their third win of the season.

But the blowout victory was overshadowed by the injury to star guard Ashley Owusu, who appeared to suffer an ankle injury after colliding with James Madison senior guard Jaylin Carodine. Owusu’s injury means Maryland’s two leading scorers from a year ago might be out of commission for the next few games as junior guard Diamond Miller, who has not played this season, is still out with knee soreness.

Despite Owusu’s absence, the No. 4 team in the country leaned on a balanced scoring attack led by graduate Chloe Bibby, 19 points, and freshman standout Shyanne Sellers, 11.

“I thought it was probably our most complete 40-minute game,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “We knew how difficult this of a place this was from past experience. I just thought our mentality was right.”

Here are some takeaways from Sunday’s outing.

The Terps put on another defensive masterclass

After holding both Longwood and Villanova to 67 points, Maryland’s defense prevented James Madison from cracking the 50-point mark. The third-highest scoring team in the CAA last season scored just 48 points.

Maryland forced 21 turnovers, which it turned into 25 points. The Dukes shot just 33% from the field and 6% from three. In 40 minutes, the home team went 1-for-18 from behind the arc. James Madison made a total of 26 shots, eight of which came from the free-throw line.

The Terps also outrebounded their opponent, 47-32. Other than Kiki Jefferson, James Madison’s top player who put up 16 points, no other player had more than seven.

In terms of quarter scoring, Maryland held James Madison to 10 points in the first, 13 in both the second and third frames and a meager nine points in the final period.

“It was our defense and our rebounding that separated us,” Frese said after the game.

Frese also noted the importance of junior guard/forward Faith Masonius on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the team’s zone set.

“Faith is our best defender in the zone,” Frese said. “It’s like having a coach in there where she keeps everybody on the same page and has the communication piece. She’s just a huge cog that we have to have defensively when we’re in zone.”

Maryland had no first-quarter woes

While the final scores of the Terps’ first two games heavily favored the fourth-ranked team in the country, they got off to slow starts in the first quarter in both matches.

There was no such lethargy against James Madison.

“To punch first, 29 to 10, in that first quarter was a big difference,” Frese said. “And that’s just a phenomenal mindset by this team with their first road game with fans, which we didn’t have last season. So, you know, really loved our mentality.”

The winningest coach in Maryland basketball history was less than pleased with how her team started in its first two outings, but Frese congratulated her players for their work in a brilliant road win on Sunday.

“We set the tone from the first quarter and really never looked back,” Frese said. “I thought we were able to get so many different contributions on the offensive end. A tremendous road win for us, our first one. Just excited about a really tough road win that we made it look easy.”

What to do when you’re missing your one-two punch?

Most teams would struggle to find results after losing their two best players, but Maryland is one of the few teams in Division I basketball where the next-player-up mentality applies. A veteran-laden team with a myriad of players who can go off for 10-plus points a night helps soften the blow of Owusu’s injury.

“Not having Diamond [is] something we have to adapt to,” Bibby said. “And I think everyone has elevated their game. I’ve done a really great job in these first three games. We’re looking forward to having her back, but I think everyone is elevating really great.”

Bibby is averaging 10.6 points and knocking down 46% of her shots from the field through three games.

From one end of the spectrum to the other, Bibby shared offensive responsibilities with several younger players, including Angel Reese and Sellers. On Sunday, Reese had a 12-point, 14-rebound double-double, and Sellers contributed 11 off the bench. The No. 22 recruit in the Class of 2021 also stepped up when Owusu got hurt.

“I’m just excited to be here,” Sellers said. “I have a great coach and great teammates that helped me out and helped me evolve my game and understand the game and what I’m going to see. They’ve just been really helpful in helping me find my way, especially during the summer.”