With No. 3 Maryland women’s basketball already doubling up UNC Wilmington, 34-17, a vintage second-quarter Maryland run would follow.
To start it off, graduate student forward/guard Chloe Bibby sunk a mid-range jumper from the right side of the baseline. On the next offensive set, sophomore forward/guard Angel Reese corralled a rebound off graduate student guard Katie Benzan’s jumper and put it back in for a layup, as seen from her all season long. Reese again put in a second-chance layup on the following series, this time off a Bibby offensive rebound.
Adding salt to the wound was freshman guard Shyanne Sellers, who used her wingspan on the Maryland press to get a steal and the easy layup. The Seahawks used their second timeout to try and stop the bleeding, but Maryland would extend the run just a bit longer. Reese showed off her defensive prowess on the perimeter, picking the pocket of sophomore guard Evan Miller and taking it the distance for a fast break deuce.
The 10-0 stretch showcased both ends of the floor for Maryland, as they held the Seahawks without a point for nearly three minutes. The Terps ultimately secured a 108-66 win, led by Reese’s 23 points.
“I thought we competed hard for the 40 minutes,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “I probably love the stat when you talk about 24 assists and three turnovers. I just thought our unselfishness, once we started going, we were able to show just kind of how many weapons we have and how versatile we are.”
UNC Wilmington started the game with a 4-1 lead, as Maryland missed its first three shots of the game. Perhaps the spark the Terps needed was inserting their star junior guard Diamond Miller, who had not played all season with a lingering knee injury.
Miller checked into the game at the 7:08 mark of the first quarter, making her season debut. She was immediately active on the defensive end, forcing a jump ball followed by a subsequent Seahawks turnover. Her first shot, a floater from a few feet out, rimmed out, but it did not look like anything was holding her back physically on the court.
Trapped without a dribble on the baseline, Miller earned her first assist on a sweet pass to a cutting Mimi Collins. The redshirt junior put in a layup plus the foul to put the Terps ahead 8-4 at the first media timeout.
The Terps offset a cold first quarter by getting to the free-throw line often. In the first 10 minutes, Maryland forced eight UNC Wilmington fouls, getting to the line 11 times. A strong end to the quarter by junior guard Ashley Owusu, who had seven points in the period, and Reese, who added four points and three offensive boards, had Maryland sitting atop of the Seahawks, 21-10.
Maryland began the second half on a 10-4 spurt to go up 17 points. Collins hit a three-pointer from the wing to get the Terps going, while Owusu sunk a straightaway three-pointer.
Stretching its lead during its second-quarter burst, Maryland was getting anything it wanted.
The excitement from the 10-0 run capped off with a major rejection from Reese. Reese stared down graduate student guard Sierra DaCosta, resulting in an easy technical foul for the officials and a free throw from DaCosta to stop the drought.
“I knew I was gonna get a tech,” Reese said. “I didn’t say what I usually say. I did say ‘give me that,’ I didn’t usually say what I usually say, but I knew I was gonna get that tech and coach was gonna get me on that one.”
UNCW could never get anything substantial going in the first half though, as a Benzan triple put Maryland up 50-20 with 35 seconds left in the second quarter. Redshirt senior forward Micah Hoggatt made two free throws with 19 seconds before halftime, and the first 20 minutes wrapped up with Maryland leading 50-22.
The Terps continued to play aggressively in the third quarter, opening up with a press to create some chaos on the defensive end. Benzan splashed her third three, but it was the next two buckets that were impressive.
Reese forced a steal on the press, knocking the ball into Owusu’s hands who hit a jumper from the Big Ten logo. UNC Wilmington was forced into a 10-second violation on the next possession, and Reese showcased her offensive rebounding ability on the ensuing set. She crashed the glass for the board and the lay-in, picking up an old-fashioned three-point play on the second chance.
“We’re trying to play the Maryland standard,” Collins said. “Coach B instilled that in us for a while. We do still have our ups and downs and we still have stuff to work on, but trust and believe we’re trying to live up to the Maryland standard.”
Owusu began to impose her will about halfway through the third quarter. Her driving ability is second to none, exploding to the rim for an easy bucket. She then added an easy layup off a floating pass from Sellers, making it easy for her. Owusu was up to 16 points, and Maryland was again doubling the Seahawks, 64-32.
Using a screen from Collins, Sellers blew by the Seahawk defense for a layup to end the quarter, putting the Terps up 80-45.
Thursday’s contest could have been much more lopsided than it was if it was not for decent three-point shooting from the Seahawks. Evan Miller hit a three to bring the Seahawks to 6-of-14 from distance on the day, but they were still down 34 points as time dwindled in the fourth quarter.
It was a typical game from Benzan, who nailed her fifth three of the game with just less than six minutes to play, bringing her to 17 points and putting Maryland up 94-52. UNCW head coach Karen Barefoot burned her final timeout after Benzan’s shot, and now it was just a matter of how many points Maryland was going to score.
Maryland cracked the 100-point mark for the first time all season when freshman forward Emma Chardon went to work in the post, using a spin move and powering through redshirt senior guard Dazia Powell for the two.
The Terps put forth their most explosive offensive performance of the year, surpassing their previous season-high by 10 points.
Three things to know
1. Diamond Miller returned but did not play much. Miller made her much-anticipated season debut against the Seahawks, but only played four minutes. She was seen icing her knee towards the end of the first half and still had it iced up as she came out for the second half. The plan may have been to only play her for a short time period as they work her back to game speed, but that remains unclear. It would make sense to rest her, as a big-time tilt with No. 6 Baylor is only days away. The Terps were also again without junior guard/forward Faith Masonius, who was out with an illness.
“With Diamond, it’s early,” Frese said. “Just kind of day-to-day where it’s like trying to get some minutes and then evaluate how the knee responds...so we’re kind of in unchartered territory.”
2. No one has had the answer for Angel Reese. Reese has just been too big, too athletic and quite simply, too talented for each one of the Terps’ five opponents so far. She notched her fourth double-double in five games, recording 23 points and 12 rebounds. Realistically, this could have been Reese’s most complete game to date, also doing it on the defensive end with five steals and two blocks. A big litmus test is ahead for Reese in a matchup with 6-foot-4 Baylor star forward NaLyssa Smith.
“[You all] always talk about my offense, but defense, I mean I got five steals,” Reese said. “...I’m just happy to be out here in front of everyone of course and play with this amazing team. And I mean, we’re emphasizing on defense this year. If I can lead the pack and have my girls follow me, that’s what we can do.”
3. Sixth-ranked Baylor awaits. Since the schedule was first released, Nov. 21 was the date circled on the calendar of all women’s college basketball fans. Two of the elite programs in the sport would be facing off in front of a raucous Xfinity Center for the rest of the nation to see. Now, the stage is set. 3-0 Baylor at 5-0 Maryland.
“We have a name for ourselves too, like you got Angel Reese, you got Mimi Collins,” Collins said. “I know you like to see NaLyssa Smith...but Maryland matters too. So it’s like, saying the Maryland name as well, but we love the Maryland standard.”