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Takeaways from No. 19 Maryland women’s basketball’s thrilling win over No. 17 Baylor

Maryland got its first big win of the season thanks to Diamond Miller.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Maryland at Baylor Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Maryland women’s basketball improved to 4-1 on the season with a 73-68 win over No. 17 Baylor. Maryland was a three-point underdog traveling to Waco, Texas, but that didn’t stop it from pulling off the slight upset.

This is Maryland’s first signature win this year, beating all unranked opponents it’s faced and its sole loss coming against No. 1 South Carolina. Maryland will head to Florida on Nov. 25 for the Fort Myers Tip-Off, where it will face DePaul, Towson and Pitt in the span of three days.

“This is why we created the schedule, to really learn about ourselves and to prepare us for what lies ahead,” head coach Brenda Frese said.

Maryland has several other tough nonconference tests left, including a road game at No. 9 Notre Dame on Dec. 1 and a home game against No. 5 UConn at the XFINITY Center on Dec. 11.

Here are some takeaways from Sunday’s game.

Diamond Miller showed why she’s a top WNBA prospect

Diamond Miller was phenomenal Sunday. She led the game in scoring with 32 points, along with 10 rebounds, shooting over 50% from the field. She scored 12 points in the second quarter to help get the Terps get ahead. Miller also hit two threes in the game, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter.

Former Baylor men’s basketball head coach Jim Haller pointed out on the broadcast that Miller simply outpowered the Baylor defense, which struggled to adjust to Miller’s six-foot-three frame as well as her phenomenal shooting skill.

Miller is currently projected to go No. 3 overall in the 2023 WNBA draft, and with this performance against a perennial power in Baylor, she showed that she deserves her high prospect distinction.

Maryland completely outshot Baylor

Baylor had a horrible game Sunday in regard to its shooting percentage. In the first half, Baylor went 1-for-17 on 3-pointers, which created more scoring opportunities for the Terps, allowing them to take a 10-point lead going into the half. While the Bears shot better in the second half, Maryland simply outshot Baylor in the game.

Comparing the two teams, Maryland shot 26-for-57 — a 45.6% field goal percentage — with a 53.3% three-point percentage and 81.3% from the free-throw line. On the other hand, Baylor shot 36.2% from the field, 20.7% from three, and a 54.5% free-throw percentage. Baylor attempted double the number of threes that Maryland took and only made two more.

Even with improved shooting by Baylor in the second half, Maryland answered each time the Bears tried to make a comeback. When Baylor started hitting 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, senior guard Abby Meyers responded with three 3-pointers of her own.

Maryland’s defense was a big reason for the poor shooting performance, forcing perimeter shots and contesting many of the Bears’ threes. Baylor’s 3-point shooting was a problem coming in and continues to be a problem, and Frese seemed to notice this in her defensive approach. Maryland’s woman-to-woman defensive scheme effectively threw Baylor off, since it played its previous three games against zone defenses.

The Terps continue to have a turnover problem

Maryland has a massive turnover problem. Although Baylor shot horribly, Maryland gave up many of the scoring opportunities that it was able to get from Baylor’s missed shots through unforced turnovers. Wednesday against Davidson, Maryland had 21 turnovers but still beat the Wildcats by 18. However, against a ranked team with more skill, turning the ball over 19 times isn’t a recipe for success.

While Baylor kept missing shots in the first half, Maryland opened up the game with five turnovers in five minutes, preventing the Terps from capitalizing off Baylor’s mistakes. Once they started to control the ball better, they were able to increase their lead in the game. But even when they got the hang of things in the second quarter, Baylor started the third quarter with a 12-2 run — primarily off turnovers by the Terps — which included Baylor guard Sarah Andrews scoring five points in just 15 seconds because of a steal.

“Love the resiliency, we started out early turning the basketball over and had to settle in, but I loved our poise and composure to take the lead at halftime.” Frese said.

The turnover problem seems to be a common theme from the past five games, and if Maryland wants to compete in the Big Ten this year, it needs to settle in earlier than it did today.