No. 6 Maryland women’s basketball received major contributions on offense all game from graduate guard Katie Benzan, and with less than two minutes until halftime against Coppin State, she came through once again for the Terps.
She used her brilliant footwork to cash in another three-pointer to add to her impressive first half for the Terps, who took an insurmountable lead going into the second half. Benzan was scorching from behind the arc in the first half, as she converted on five of her six attempted three-pointers to pace the Terps with 17 points at halftime.
Benzan’s brilliant 22-point day, along with stout defense, allowed Maryland to cruise to a 98-52 victory over Coppin State on Tuesday. With the win, the Terps improved to 10-3 on the season and they have won four of their last five games since their trip to the Bahamas.
“You know, I play with two great point guards in Ashley [Owusu] and Shay [Sellers], but it goes around to all of my teammates just to find me when I’m open and recently it’s been going down,” Benzan said.
Head coach Brenda Frese coached against a familiar face, as former Terp Laura Harper is the head coach of the Coppin State Eagles.
Harper played under Frese from 2004-2008 and her No. 15 jersey hangs from the rafters in the Xfinity Center. She’s a 1,000 point scorer and was named the 2006 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
“I love when our players go into coaching. I love the game and I love to coach. I love to see when players get back into it and you know, enjoy it as much as playing and Harper was that type of player,” Frese said.
The Terps traveled up to Baltimore, Maryland for a morning matchup with the Eagles. Maryland last played nine days ago when it fell to No. 1 South Carolina by seven on the road and the Terps looked fresh right out of the gates after the extended break in the schedule.
Redshirt junior forward Mimi Collins got Maryland started on a 4-0 run and that was only a sign of things to come. The Terps put in 16 of the matchup’s first 21 points as they cruised to a massive advantage on the scoreboard in the first quarter.
Junior guard Diamond Miller made her long-awaited return to the lineup, yet it was Benzan who stole the show. Benzan led all scorers in the opening 10 minutes with 11 points. She sank three three-pointers in the first quarter to help Maryland balloon its first-quarter lead to 28-13 over Coppin State.
“I have lots of progress to continue to get better at but this was a good start. I feel more confident than ever.” Miller said.
Maryland’s healthy lineup continued its dominance heading into the second frame.
Just six seconds into the second quarter, junior guard Ashley Owusu made an inbound pass to a waiting graduate forward Chloe Bibby after Coppin State turned the ball over. Bibby, on the left wing, received the pass and swished in the three-pointer to extend the Terps’ lead to 31-13.
Maryland continued to push in the second half and as its offense continued to stay hot, its defense paid off as well. The Terps did not allow Coppin State to score until over two minutes into the second quarter, however, those points came from the charity stripe and the Eagles did not hit a field goal until nearly a minute later.
Miller, the star guard who played in just two games coming into Tuesday and hadn’t seen the court since Nov. 21, made her first bucket in a beautiful fashion. She shot a Dirk Nowitzki-esque fadeaway to extend the Maryland lead to 39-17 with just under seven minutes in the second quarter.
Miller wouldn’t stop thereafter collecting the initial bucket.
On the following possession, Owusu dribbled hard to her right to push the pace in transition and found a hustling Miller, who used her left hand to score the layup. Miller rattled off seven consecutive points for the Terps.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Benzan added her fifth three-pointer of the day bringing her point total up 17 points.
At halftime with the Terps holding a 56-24 advantage, nine of Maryland’s players played at least five minutes and tallied a minimum of two points in the first 20 minutes of play. Maryland seemed determined to dominate the game on the glass as well, as they punished Coppin State with a 28-12 advantage on the boards.
Benzan continued her hot start from the first half, with her sixth made three-pointer of the game just a few possessions into the third quarter. From that point on, the game was pretty much all settled with Maryland jumping out to a lead that stretched to more than 30 points.
Then with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Benzan answered the bell again and maneuvered her way through defenders and got to the basket for a tough layup to extend the Terps’ lead to 65-29.
Maryland’s third quarter was just as solid as the previous two. The Terps were on fire from the field, going 10-for-16 as a team in the third frame alone. Making shots was the simple formula for Maryland’s success and Coppin State failed to find any kind of answer. The Eagles scored only 13 points in the third as the Terps took a commanding lead into the final quarter.
Junior guard/forward Faith Masonius provides a lot of value to a Maryland team that’s looking to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament this season. Masonius took three hard dribbles to her left and shot a one-legged floater off the glass to add to the Terps dominant 89-42 advantage with just under six minutes in the fourth quarter.
Masonius consistently spaces the floor, communicates on defense and makes the right play for head coach Brenda Frese’s club and she made that evident over the final 10 minutes.
Maryland took care of business and outscored Coppin State 20-15 in the fourth quarter en route to the 46-point road win.
Three things to know
1. Diamond Miller made her return to the lineup. Maryland has by no means trudged through the season so far, amassing a 9-3 record before capturing its 10th win against Coppin State today. However, it lacked the presence of Miller due to a knee injury for a significant period of time and that seemed to be the one missing piece to this juggernaut of a roster. Miller ended up scoring 10 points in the contest. It was just the first time she played since Nov. 21, but her return was more than a welcoming sight for Maryland.
2. Maryland capitalized on its opportunities and spread out the scoring. Coming into this game, the Terps scored an average of 22.3 points per game off turnovers and against the Eagles, that momentum continued. Maryland closed out the game scoring 30 points off turnovers and had 27 second chance points against the Eagles. Maryland finished the day with five players in double-digit scoring en route to the victory including sophomore forward/guard Angel Reese who tallied her seventh double-double of the season with 12 points and 14 boards. Bibby also added 14 points while Masonius put up 10.
3. The Terps will head into Big Ten play 10-3. Maryland has now collected 10 wins, including one over conference opponent, Rutgers when it took a break from its nonconference slate. Although three losses in 13 games may seem unpromising for a team that returned nearly its entire roster and suffered just three losses in 29 games during the 2020-21 season, it has not been an easy road for the Terps. Maryland’s first two losses of the season came against then-No. 5 NC State and then-No. 7 Stanford in the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship. However, the Terps were not at full strength as Miller (knee) along with Benzan (illness) and Masonius (illness) were out for the game. Maryland’s only other loss thus far came against No. 1 South Carolina. However, Maryland kept the game close and even held onto the lead a few times. The Terps will start their full conference slate Dec. 30 at Illinois.