On the road against No. 17 Baylor, Maryland women’s basketball’s star senior guard Diamond Miller showed why she’s regarded as one of the top prospects in next year’s WNBA Draft.
Miller went off in the second and third quarters, scoring 12 points in each frame. With under five seconds remaining in the third quarter, Miller used a filthy crossover to create separation for a 3-pointer before the buzzer sounded.
Miller’s career-high 32 points led the 19th-ranked Terps to a 73-68 victory over Baylor at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas for their first ranked victory of the season.
“Diamond reminds me a lot of Alyssa Thomas when they’re so amped up as competitors that they want it so badly that it’s not going to work. Even with Alyssa, just have that little moment and let’s take a pause,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “Let’s get our heart rate back down, and just a terrific response out of Diamond and just settling in and playing the way she knows how to play.”
Baylor and Maryland started fast with both teams looking to snatch the ball off the rim and get into transition.
The Bears got on the board first by turning defense into offense. An errant pass by Maryland guard Diamond Miller led to Baylor’s Sarah Andrews jumping into the passing lane for a steal. Andrews raced the length of the court and scored the fast-break layup.
After struggling to take care of the basketball in its previous victory, Maryland once again struggled, as it recorded seven turnovers in the opening 10 minutes.
The first quarter ended with Baylor taking a one-point lead after freshman forward Darianna Littlepage-Buggs made one of two free throws with 0.4 seconds on the clock.
Maryland found success from behind the arc in the second quarter, as guards Abby Meyers and Shyanne Sellers each sank a 3-pointer in the period.
The Terps went on a 12-5 run with Sellers cashing in from deep. Miller’s slashing ability was evident, as she scored in the paint on one possession then knocked down a mid-range jumper as part of the run.
Miller creates instant offense with a pro-ready skillset and subtle aggressiveness in transition. With under three minutes until halftime, Miller flashed to the middle and called for the basketball. The guard caught the ball in stride and drove the basket for a layup. The New Jersey native scored 12 points in the second quarter.
Maryland headed into the second half with a 36-26 lead after an up-and-down first quarter.
Baylor began the third quarter with guard Jaden Owens converting on a corner three-pointer. On the next two possessions, Andrews made a mid-range shot and scored a layup to cap off a 7-0 run for the Bears.
Miller continued her offensive dominance with 12 more points in the third quarter, highlighted by a crafty crossover that resulted in a step-back three-pointer before the buzzer sounded.
Despite Miller’s dominance, the game was far from over entering the fourth quarter. For every knockout punch Maryland tried to throw, Baylor had a counter, cutting the lead to four down the stretch of the final frame.
Ultimately, Maryland prevailed by taking care of the ball and sinking clutch free throws to secure a closely-contested win over a top 25 team.
“[This game was] really important. I told them in the locker room after the game that I learned a lot about our team. This is why you want to take these battles on the road and to have some of these close battles really prepare you for what lies ahead, but I love to be able to see the response where we didn’t even flinch with a lot of the runs,” Frese said. “And just the late-game confidence to step up and make free throws, the ball security that we have, so just saw a lot of great things to see our competitiveness overall as a team.”
Next, Maryland will play in the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Nov. 25-27, starting with a matchup with DePaul on Friday at 11 a.m.
Three things to know
1. Maryland picked up its first win over a ranked opponent. Maryland had been putting together an impressive season so far, but it was yet to win a marquee game over another opponent of its caliber. On Sunday, it did just that with a road victory over a top 25 team in Baylor. It was a gutsy, resilient win for the Terps, who have a lot to build on with Big Ten play beginning soon.
2. Diamond Miller continues to show why she is one of the best players in the country. When considering some of the best players in the Big Ten, some would say that Miller is the first to come to mind. She made plays the entire evening and her statistics verified that statement. The preseason All-Big Ten honoree scored a career high 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, scoring on all three levels. On one possession, she utilized her ultra-tight handle on the basketball then proceeded to knock down a 3-pointer. Then on the next possession, she leapt for an offensive rebound before putting it into the basket for two points.
3. The Terps’ success from behind the arc was key. Coming into Sunday, Maryland was shooting a worrisome 37.2% from three-point range. Maryland was efficient shooting the ball against the Bears, as it shot 8-for-15 from three. Meyers drained three-of-five 3-pointers to bring her point total to 13. Meyers has scored in double figures in all five Maryland games this season. Miller also showed her range, going 2-for-4 from behind the arc.