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No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball struggles against No. 11 Michigan, falls 69-49

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The Terps suffered their second loss in conference play this season.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

One look at No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball’s bench towards the end of Sunday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend contest said it all. The look of defeat spread from player to player after the Terps suffered a blowout home loss to No. 11 Michigan.

Maryland went down by 10 after the end of the opening quarter, but it was really in the subsequent two frames that it struggled to get much of anything going. The Terps scored just three points in the second, then only 11 in the third, to all but seal the program’s second loss stemming from the Big Ten this season.

The Terps were flustered by the Wolverines’ defense all evening long as they fell 69-49 in College Park on Sunday. The defeat moves Maryland to 12-5, and it marked its fifth loss to a ranked opponent this season.

Before the game, there was a moment of silence for head coach Brenda Frese’s father, Bill, who passed away earlier today, the program announced. Frese’s relationship with her parents is well-known, and her emphasis on family is engrained in the program. Frese’s mother, Donna, and Bill have both impacted the program, and they surprised her in March when they announced via video call that she had earned AP National Coach of the Year.

“He’s my heart,” Frese said of her father. “I think a big piece of who I am obviously as a coach and motivating, and he’s always been that.”

Shortly after the moment of silence, the game tipped off.

Though the No. 8 Terrapins played fairly well in the first quarter — making 60% of their shots — No. 11 Michigan didn’t miss for the game’s first six minutes, making its first eight attempts. The Wolverines also blitzed the Terps with a swarming defensive effort, forcing five early giveaways.

The biggest takeaway from Sunday’s first quarter was Michigan’s shooting from inside and out. The Wolverines went 10-for-15 from the field and knocked down five threes. On the season, Michigan had been making an average of 4.8 threes per game.

“They were lights out,” Frese said of Michigan’s shooting. “Eight of their first nine shots, five early threes kind of set us spiraling, but credit to them.”

In other words, even though Maryland held last year’s Big Ten Player of the Year, Naz Hillmon, scoreless in the first, Michigan's three-point shooting — headlined by Maddie Nolan, who went 3-for-3 from deep — made life difficult for the No. 8 team in the nation.

“I mean, our game plan early obviously was to limit Naz, which we did a tremendous job on her,” Frese said. “But, you know, they’re a great team — recently went to a Sweet 16 — and have a lot of talented players.”

Nolan finally missed from behind the arc at the 8:05 mark, but her side still held a 10-point lead early in the second. Hillmon got free under the basket two minutes later and dropped her first double, which forced a Maryland timeout.

Even though Hillmon went 14 minutes without a bucket, the fearsome post player made her presence known elsewhere. She pitched in with three rebounds and one block before etching her name on the scoresheet.

At the 8:56 mark in the second, Chloe Bibby hit a three for her side to cut Maryland’s deficit to 10, but the Australian’s three-pointer was the only field goal Maryland saw fall through the hoop in the second quarter. What’s more, Michigan’s defense held the Terps to a season-low 19 first-half points, including just a three-point second frame.

“Michigan did a great job on defense,” graduate Katie Benzan said. “They really prevented us from getting into our rhythm and into our flow. And that’s a credit to them, but it’s also us we have to go back to the drawing board and find out how to counter that.”

With Maryland coming up short offensively, Michigan took a 34-19 advantage into the break.

For the team with the best assist to turnover nation in college basketball, Maryland lost the ball 13 times in the first half while logging just seven assists.

Junior guard/forward Diamond Miller finally ended the drought for the hosts with a pair of free throws, but the Terps still found themselves down by 15. After Miller found her stroke from the charity stripe, sophomore standout Angel Reese scored her first two points of the evening with a floaty two.

It didn’t matter, though, as Nolan knocked down two more threes — to give the sharpshooter six on the night — much to the delight of Michigan’s bench.

With the match all but decided after 20 minutes, the second half wound down in predictable fashion. Before the drubbing at the hands of Michigan, Maryland had five players averaging 10-plus points. However, not one player made it to double digits on Sunday as Maryland scored a season-low 49 points.

The home team made 31% of its shots from the field and 25% from three, committing 17 turnovers. They also were outrebounded 38-23 and finished with just 13 assists. Reese, 10 rebounds, and Bibby had nine points apiece, while Miller and redshirt junior Mimi Collins each added eight.

“Just being in attack mode and just attacking that hard hedge,” Benzan said of what improvement the team could make moving forward. “We were hesitant coming off ball screens, so maybe just attacking a little bit more and then if we got a little bit more stops, maybe pushing in transition would boost our offense.”

On the other end, Nolan led the way with a game-high 21 points, all of which came from three. Leigha Brown had 15 points and four assists, and Hillmon put up nine points, eight rebounds, two blocks and one steal.

Three things to know

1. History for Michigan. Sometimes teams get hot, and Michigan used the strong shooting performance to become the first team in 32 tries to defeat Maryland in College Park; before Sunday evening, the Terps had won 31 consecutive games in their home confines of Xfinity Center, a streak dating back to November of 2019. It was also the Wolverine’s first win away at Maryland.

2. The Terps had a forgettable second quarter. For the final nine minutes of the second, nothing went right for the home team. Maryland made just one field goal, gave the ball away eight times and trailed by 15. The only good news from the second period was that Michigan only scored eight total points, going scoreless for four and a half minutes of the frame. The only Terp to score in the frame was Bibby, who hit a three. All other players went a combined 1-for-6 in the second quarter.

3. Maryland’s performance against ranked and unranked opponents. Against unranked opponents this season, the Terps are 11-0 and score an average of 91.5 points per game. Versus ranked opponents, however, Maryland is a measly 1-4 — with the only win coming against then-No. 6 Baylor — with a scoring average of 65.2 points. This loss to Michigan was a poor game from a Maryland team that is still adjusting to the injuries presented to it, specifically with Faith Masonius’ absence. After the defeat to another ranked squad, Maryland drops to 4-2 in conference play.

“We want to improve our defense,” Bibby said. “We have to be faster on our rotations. I feel like tonight we’re just one step late, and they punished us for 40 minutes.”