Following a nine-day break, No. 6 Maryland Women’s basketball (10-3) traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to face Coppin State University (6-6) in the team’s final nonconference game of the season.
From the get-go, the Terps always looked like the superior side, holding a 28–13 lead after the opening quarter, a 32-point advantage at the half and eventually winning the contest by 46.
Maryland made the trip north to face Coppin State and the team’s head coach, Laura Harper, a former Terrapin who was instrumental in the school’s only national championship and whose No. 15 hangs in the rafters at Xfinity Center.
“This game was a special one on a lot of fronts,” head coach Brenda Frese said after the outing. “First and foremost, being able to coach against Laura Harper, I can’t say enough just how proud I am for the program that she’s built here at Coppin. She’s just done a phenomenal job, which I’m not surprised by one bit.”
It was also a chance for Angel Reese to return home and play in front of friends and family.
“It felt great,” Reese said of playing in Baltimore. “Having all my family and friends here, to play with this great team, it’s a great way to go into Christmas break. I’m so happy that we won in Baltimore. A lot of people came out, so I’m happy.”
And then there was the return of junior superstar Diamond Miller, but more on her later.
Maryland next returns to the court on Dec. 30 for an away battle with Illinois. For now, the focus stays with taking the momentum from Tuesday into the holiday season in preparation for an away conference match.
“I thought 27 assists to eight turnovers, that’s how we want to play,” Frese said. “The unselfishness we played with, really excited to be able to go take a break now and enjoy the holidays.”
Here are several takeaways from the meeting with Coppin State.
Katie Benzan was brilliant for Maryland in the road win.
Against the Eagles, graduate guard Katie Benzan did Katie Benzan things. The top three-point shooter from a year ago knocked down six of her nine attempts from behind the arc and finished with a team-high and game-high 22 points. The Harvard transfer did all this in just 24 minutes of play and she also added six assists to the cause.
“It’s a testament to my teammates,” Benzan said of her team’s abilities to get her the ball. “I play with two great point guards in Ashley [Owusu] and Shy [Sellers], but it goes all around with my teammates just finding me when I’m open. “Just finding that confidence and that consistency, hopefully, it can carry on for the rest of the season.”
Benzan has played in 10 games for the Terps so far this season and her 22 points in Tuesday’s win tied her season-high. The last time she scored 22 points was back on Nov. 18. She has scored in double-figures in seven games this year as well and she’s a likely candidate to continue producing for Maryland.
But it wasn’t just Benzan who found her scoring stroke against Coppin State. Over 40 minutes Tuesday afternoon, Maryland attempted 22 three-pointers and sank 11 of them. Heading into the affair, Maryland was a collective 33% from three but couldn’t seem to miss at Physical Education Complex and Benzan was a major part of that push.
The return of Diamond Miller is a sign of positive things to come for the Terps.
At the 6:45 mark of the second quarter, junior guard Diamond Miller, who had not played since the Nov. 21 matchup against Baylor due to a knee injury, knocked down her first basket of the afternoon — a turnaround two that gave Maryland a 22-point lead.
Less than a minute later, the all-conference guard drained her first three of the season. The assist on Miller’s deep ball came from Owusu, a poetic play for two players who Frese has called the dynamic duo.
“I’m still working my way back,” Miller said after the Terps’ win. “Lots of progress to continue to get better at but this was a good start. I feel more confident than ever. My knee is doing really good. I’m just ready for the new year.”
Playing her season-high in minutes, Miller put up a 10-point, six-rebound, four-assist and two-block stat line. For the Terps to be the best version of themselves, they will need Miller moving forward.
“She’s put a ton of hard work in and being patient to be able to get her knee right,” Freese said of Miller. “She uplifts our team and makes everyone better and that’s a sign of a great player, when you make everyone around you better.”
Maryland’s scoring offense regained its dominant form heading into the break.
Each of the nine players who set foot on the court for Maryland Tuesday afternoon scored at least six points. Benzan led the way, forward/guard Chloe Bibby logged 14 and nine rebounds, Reese put up a 12-point, 14-rebound double-double, and Miller and forward/guard Faith Masonius each had 10 points.
And even for the players who failed to crack 10 points, there were other contributions. Owusu added seven assists, forward Mimi Collins had eight rebounds, Sellers contributed five helpers and Taisiya Kozlova went 2-for-3 from deep.
The depth scoring was evident for Maryland in this one and it’s something it has been missing with a few key injuries throughout the season.
“Just our response out of South Carolina,” Frese said. “We had some really tough practices during finals this week. We’ve finally had a lot of days to work on us. So to be able to see the unselfishness with our assist to turnover ratio, to see their response rebounding, that was huge. [We’re] just playing the right way, and we’re continuing to grow this team every single day.”