No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball fell to No. 11 Michigan at home Sunday, losing 69-49.
Head coach Brenda Frese led the Terps with a heavy heart, as her father Bill passed away at the age of 89 Sunday.
Unfortunately for Maryland, it was never able to get the wheels turning in its lowest offensive showing in more than nine years. Michigan raced out to an early lead, and Maryland was never able to recover.
The loss snapped Maryland’s 31-game home winning streak, as it fell to 12-5 overall and 4-2 in conference play. Let’s dive into some takeaways from Sunday.
Highlighted by nearly a nine-minute scoring drought, Maryland had a nightmare second quarter.
Following a sluggish first quarter, Maryland found itself trailing 26-16 after 10 minutes.
Michigan junior guard Maddie Nolan — who was sensational in the first half with 12 points — hit her fourth three-pointer of the game to bring the Wolverines’ lead to 29-16 just 20 seconds into the second quarter. Graduate student forward/guard Chloe Bibby responded emphatically with a triple to cut the lead back down to 10, but that was it for Maryland in the frame.
Maryland, which averages 83.3 points per game, went the next eight minutes and 56 seconds without scoring a single point. Astonishingly, the Terps only scored three points in the entire second frame. The scoring drought lasted over 10 minutes in total, as junior guard Diamond Miller broke it with the team’s first free-throw attempt, and make, in the third quarter.
“Michigan did a great job on defense,” graduate student guard Katie Benzan said. “They really prevented us from getting into our rhythm and into our flow, and it really showed. 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.”
The Terps were able to keep themselves in the game, though, due to a strong second quarter on the defensive end. Michigan only scored eight points in the second quarter, and it had its own scoring drought spanning four and a half minutes heading into the locker room.
Regardless, Maryland could not seem to get out of its way before halftime. The Terps had eight turnovers in the second quarter, adding up to 13 total giveaways by halftime. Sophomore forward/guard Angel Reese struggled inside with the matchup against Michigan star senior forward Naz Hillmon, scoring zero points and turning the ball over three times in the game’s second period.
The Wolverines also corralled seven offensive boards in the first half, hampering Maryland in virtually all facets of the game.
Maddie Nolan led a Michigan three-point barrage.
Coming into Sunday, the Wolverines had only averaged 4.8 three-point makes per game. Against Maryland, Nolan surpassed that mark herself.
The Zionsville, Indiana product was averaging 8.6 points before Sunday’s game, but she had a national breakout game against the Terps. Nolan finished with 21 points, shooting 7-of-11 from three-point range.
“Number three, Maddie, she shot the lights out, and that’s on us,” Bibby said. “We have to find shooters, we knew she was a shooter coming in, and honestly, it’s just not good enough.”
Nolan certainly led the way on the perimeter for Michigan, but three other Wolverines made threes for 30 total points on 50% shooting from distance.
A lot of Maryland’s defensive focus was rightfully on Hillmon, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and a First Team All-American. However, it allowed Nolan and Michigan to get open looks from the three-point line. Despite that area being labeled as a weakness for the Wolverines, they took advantage of it.
“Great teams are going to have more than one great player,” Bibby said. “So that’s on us... regardless, she’s a good player, she can knock it down, we have to make sure we’re there as I said. I think our rotations were late tonight and yeah, they did a great job finding her.”
Michigan drilled its first three three-point attempts and five of its first six. That allowed the Wolverines to establish their grip over the game early, and they never looked back from there.
“Five early threes kind of set us spiraling, but credit to them,” Frese said. “I mean, our gameplay early obviously was to limit Naz, which we did a tremendous job on her. But, they’re a great team.”
Maryland’s offensive was out of sorts for the entirety of Sunday’s game.
Juggernaut. Machine. Unstoppable.
Those are some of the words used to describe Maryland’s offense on a normal basis. Surely, in the long term, that narrative will not change. But, for whatever reason, that was not the case against Michigan.
On a team consisting of so many All-American and All-Big Ten caliber plays, the stars just did not align against the Wolverines. Maryland, which has five players that score in double-figures on average, did not have a single-player score more than 10 points Sunday.
The Assist-to-turnover ratio is a statistic that Frese and her program pride themselves on. The Terps led the nation in that category one year ago and were sixth in the nation before Sunday according to NCAA.com, but Maryland was in the negative for only the fifth time all season Sunday with 13 assists and 17 turnovers. Junior guard Ashley Owusu, one of the premier passers in the conference, only had one assist.
The Terps usually excel in transition, but they only recorded four fast-break points, all of which came in the second half. Also, Maryland just had an off night shooting. The Terps shot 31% from the field and 5-of-20 from three-point range.
Credit must be given to the Wolverines, who displayed a defensive clinic on the road against Maryland.
“Now other teams will go watch film and scout us and see that we struggled tonight,” Benzan said. “So we got to find our counter to try to score against pressure and against that hard hedge like Michigan showed tonight.”
Despite its poor performance, it is only January. Maryland will have plenty of time to resolve its offensive woes as the season continues. Frese’s teams often peak at the right time, and Maryland will have at least 11 more conference games to build on before the postseason arrives.
“Still searching for our identity, our energy and effort,” Frese said. “The good thing is it’s only January, but at some point we’ve got to be able to get in a rhythm as a team and then be able to come out competing for 40 straight minutes.”