The sequence started with none other than star guard Ashley Owusu when No. 3 Maryland women’s basketball was in a close game with No. 6 Baylor.
The opening act was a dish inside to forward Chloe Bibby. Act two was a driving layup from the guard. For the third act, Owusu stole the inbound pass and found freshman Shyanne Sellers, who drained a three to take a seven-point lead, Maryland’s largest of the game.
Owusu had a few highlight moments on Sunday afternoon as she finished with a team-high 24 points against Baylor. Owusu’s effort helped Maryland take down the Bears, 79-76, in College Park. The win marks the Terps’ first victory against a ranked opponent this season.
“I’m just playing my game,” Owusu said. “Just not trying to overthink it or do too much. Just kind of reading what the defense gives me and then taking it from there.”
In what was always going to be a physical affair, the first four minutes of Sunday’s three-six matchup saw three jump balls and five fouls committed.
Maryland’s first basket of the game came on a pretty Owusu step-back two. Baylor fed National Player of the Year favorite forward NaLyssa Smith inside early, but Maryland responded through Angel Reese and Mimi Collins.
Diamond Miller, who has been struggling with a sore knee, checked into the game with about five minutes remaining in the first and made an instant impact. The junior guard went down low to Owusu, who fired another two over to defenders.
Back-to-back threes from Sarah Andrews and Smith, which pushed Baylor’s lead to six, forced Maryland head coach Brenda Frese to call for a stoppage with 1:32 remaining.
A frantic end to the first frame saw Reese go to work in the paint, only to be answered by a Jordan Lewis, 29 points, two assists, floater on the other end. After 10 minutes played, Baylor held a 21–17 advantage.
After Reese started the second with a backdown lay in, Owusu danced through Baylor’s defense and found Chloe Bibby, 16 points five rebounds, two steals and two blocks, wide open in the right corner, and the Australian forward knocked down a three to take the lead.
“I think it’s hard for any team to play us on the floor,” Bibby said. “You never know what we’re gonna do.”
For her first non-free-throw points of the season, Miller grabbed an offensive rebound and went underneath Smith for an emphatic two. For the cherry on top, Miller got Smith to commit her second foul of the afternoon.
On the back of sturdy defense from the Terps to close out the second, the number three team in the nation entered the locker room up seven.
After playing three minutes in the second quarter due to foul trouble, Reese was active to begin the half; the Baltimore native grabbed her fifth offensive board of the game and hit a second-chance two over six-foot-three Queen Egbo.
With just over four minutes to go in the third, Miller landed hard on her knee and limped off the cour stand into the locker room.
The injury to Miller looked like it might deflate the Terps, but a late Bibby three reignited the Maryland faithful gathered inside the Xfinity Center.
“I can’t tell you how special it was to have our fans here today,” Frese said. “Obviously, they’re our sixth man. It’s been so long since we’ve had just a crowd like that, you see here in Maryland, what we’re able to draw.”
Smith started taking over in the fourth; the six-foot-four forward notched her team’s first four points of the quarter. The dynamic post player had a game- and team-high 30 points and 15 rebounds on 14-of-25 shooting from the floor.
A Reese foul at 9:26 saw the sophomore standout drop to the bench, and with Miller out, Frese called on fellow second-year player Taisiya Kozlova.
Reward outweighed risk for Frese at 4:57 because she brought Reese back into the match. The move paid dividends as Reese had five points, three rebounds and one steal in the final period. She ended the game second on the team in scoring with 17 points and nine rebounds, five of which were on the offensive glass.
“I wanted to get her in sooner, but I knew I needed to be smart,” Frese said of deliberating on when to bring Reese back into the game in the fourth quarter. “It was hard being patient.”
With less than three minutes to go, Owusu engrained her name onto the Maryland women’s basketball record book. Off of a stepback jumper, Owusu became the 35th Terp to join the 1,000-point club. She finished the outing with a team-high 24 points, six assists and four rebounds.
“It means a lot, especially to be able to do it in a game like this with so many fans,” Owusu said. “So just be able to come out and share this great accomplishment.”
With eight seconds left to play, Baylor marched down the court, but Sarah Andrews’ shot fell inches short and bounced off the rim for the Bears’ first loss of the season. Despite it being a three-point win, the Terps held the lead for 25 minutes.
It was only fitting that Maryland improved to 6–0 on the afternoon Brenda Frese was presented with the Nell & John Wooden Excellence in Coaching Award, which was awarded prior to tipoff.
A short bench meant that Bibby and Collins played all 40 minutes, and Owusu and Sellers, who got her first career collegiate start, logged 39.
Three things to know
1. The dynamism of Ashley Owusu. The junior guard continues to shine for the Terps and helped lead them to victory over Baylor. Owusu finished the game with 24 points and six assists. Her final basket of the day marked her 1,000 career point that she’s collected over the last few seasons with the Terps. She is one of Maryland’s strongest shooters and she will continue to play an integral role in Maryland’s offense this season.
2. Reese was excellent on the glass yet again. The standout sophomore has been a brilliant rebounder for the Terps as of late, and not much changed on Sunday. Reese finished with a team-high nine rebounds, five of which were on the offensive end. Reese came into the game with an average of 12 rebounds per contest, but even though she didn’t quite hit that mark against Baylor, she was still a major factor on the boards.
3. Maryland overcame its first major challenge of the season. The top-10 matchup got a little more interesting after Katie Benzan and Faith Masonius were both ruled out prior to the game. Even with the lack of depth, the Terps still found a way to beat one of the best teams in the nation. This win is extremely encouraging for a Maryland program that will travel down to the Bahamas to take on two more top-10 opponents. Meetings with No. 5 NC State and No. 7 Stanford await the Terps, who are now 1-0 against ranked opponents this season.