After several conference losses this past week to No. 8 Michigan and Ohio State, No. 12 Maryland (13-6) got back on track with an emphatic home win over Big Ten rival Northwestern (11-7).
The Terps improved to 9-1 at home on the season and held the Wildcats to their second-lowest scoring game of the season.
Head coach Brenda Frese, who was with family this past week after the passing of her father, Bill, returned to the bench. Frese coached against Michigan on the day her father passed and missed the Ohio State match.
“I loved our effort and our energy from the start today,” Frese said. “When I watched the [Ohio State] game on Thursday, I saw the effort and the energy, which is something we need to have every day.”
After a tumultuous and challenging week both on and off the court, Maryland refocused and took care of business at Xfinity Center.
Here are several takeaways from Sunday’s win.
Maryland finally got hot from deep.
After making just a combined 14-of-40 three-point attempts against Michigan and Ohio State, Maryland exploded from behind the arc for a season-high 18 threes made. Ther Terps made 58% of their shots on a whopping 31 attempts from downtown.
Graduate guard Katie Benzan led the way with five threes, followed by freshman Shyanne Sellers (four) and junior guards Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller, who each made three.
The Terps’ had a three-point percentage of 58%, while it only shot 48% from the floor as a team. Maryland also ended up with 13 more three-pointers than Northwestern.
“[The] season-high threes, that’s the sign of a team that’s really trying to improve in that area,” Frese said. “And quite honestly, [it’s] an area we’ve got to get a lot better so terrific response that we did a much better job.”
Against Michigan, Sellers played 15 minutes and had three points. Versus Ohio State, the Ohio native was on the court for 10 minutes and put up two points. However, on Sunday afternoon, Sellers provided a much-needed impact off the bench for her team, scoring 14 points in 31 minutes of play.
“I thought Shy was a tremendous spark off the bench,” Frese said. “I loved her response coming off a tough game. It was just a phenomenal response.”
It has been a learning season for one of the team’s newest players, but against Northwestern, Sellers showed why she was the No. 22 recruit in the 2021 class.
“I think it’s very important for me to stay engaged at all times,” Sellers said. “I can’t play perfect every game, but we always talk about supporting other people when your game is not going well. I think that kind of helped me today.”
After her performance against Northwestern, Sellers through 19 games is averaging 7.8 points, 3.2 boards and has a total of 43 assists, the third-most on the team. Sellers also has had 24 steals this season.
Unselfish play leads to a big offensive afternoon.
One of the issues Maryland had in its two losses to Michigan and Ohio State was the lack of ball movement. The team’s passing was stagnant, and players were stuck with the ball without an outlet pass, which allowed the defense to double the ball and force turnovers.
But one of the keys to the Terps’ offensive onslaught was the work of the team’s bigs in the paint, primarily sophomore big guard Angel Reese.
“Angel is such a threat in the paint,” Benzan said. “They have to throw two, three defenders out at her. Angel’s great at reading the defense, seeing the double team and just finding the open player.”
Against the Wildcats, the Terps had 24 assists, the second-most behind the 27 assists Maryland dished out against Coppin State. The game marked the third time in Big Ten play that the Terps had over 20 assists with the first two 20-plus assist performances coming against Penn State and Minnesota.
Maryland also had five players score in double figures as it spread out the scoring. Benzan led the way with 17 points, Owusu and Miller had 15 points each, Sellers put up 14 and Bibby had a 12-point performance. Reese was just one point shy of hitting the 10-point mark as well.
“I thought our post players were really, really unselfish,” Frese said. “Talking game shooting, 58% from the three-point line, 18 made threes — very unselfish. I thought it was a thing of beauty. We really played for each other and really made a lot of easy plays. Nobody had to take tough shots today.”