No. 16 Maryland women’s basketball ended 2022 on a high note with a dominant 107-85 victory over Big Ten foe Minnesota. The Terps flashed moments of “building chemistry” and put on a complete performance at the XFINITY Center in College Park.
Maryland moved to 2-1 in conference play and will hit the road for a clash with Rutgers on Jan. 2 at 2 p.m.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Maryland’s defense paved the way for a productive showing in transition.
When the season began in late October, Maryland head coach Brenda Frese knew this team would be reliant upon its speed to cause havoc for opponents. However, it was Maryland’s speed on the defensive end that set the stage for its offense to deliver the goods.
Frese’s Terps wasted little time getting into their signature 1-2-2 full court press, as they looked to force turnovers and control the tempo. Maryland would do just that, led by sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers.
Sellers, in front of Maryland’s press, showed active hands and forced Minnesota’s offense to constantly start with only seconds to spare on the shot clock. The sophomore collected two of the Terps’ 13 steals and recorded 19 points and nine rebounds in Maryland’s victory.
But it was the Terps’ experienced leader who would set the tone on defense.
Maryland star senior guard Diamond Miller flashed her two-way skillset, as she was dialed in from the opening tip.
Miller used her length to harass Minnesota and was active in the passing lane, evidenced by her five steals.
The Terps scored 30 points off 23 Minnesota’s turnovers, as they were effective at stealing the ball and racing out in transition.
Maryland enjoys turning defense into offense and knows it is capable of playing at a high level on any given night.
“Our press, turnovers, [the fact] that we were able to force 23-6 was a huge piece in the game for us,” Frese said. “That’s something that we’re very capable of doing every single time we step out on the floor.”
The Terps made an emphasis to snatch the defensive rebound and get into their fast break. With 26 fast break points, Maryland had its way with Minnesota in front of its home fans.
If Maryland can build on this victory, it could be a dangerous team by the time March comes around.
The Terps’ six turnovers injected life into their offense.
One of the easiest ways to position your team for a victory is to simply limit the amount of turnovers.
On Friday, Maryland recorded a mere six turnovers, its second highest total in the past three games. The Terps’ ability to protect the basketball provided additional possessions for their athletes to get buckets at the rim.
Maryland hit the century mark for the first time this season, with four scorers in double figures. Miller led the Terps with 22 points, making six of seven shots from the charity stripe. The New Jersey native has played well all season, and Frese believes it’s her mindset that’s paying dividends for the Terps.
“I love how Diamond’s playing because she draws so many [people] defensively that she’s now understanding to draw, to kick, to get it back, to cut, to move, and our offense is really flowing,” Frese said. “That’s a hard matchup when everybody scores and championship teams have to have three, four or five scorers in double figures.”
Maryland’s offense is predicated on lots of motion and setting strong screens to free up its talent on the perimeter.
The Terps’ ability to limit their turnovers helped shine a light on an impressive performance by a player in their first season donning the black and red.
Senior guard Lavender Briggs scored 14 points off the bench and did not record a single turnover in 27 minutes of action. The Florida transfer seems to be gaining comfort playing with her teammates after missing last season with a reported lower body injury.
“I’m feeling pretty good. I’m just trying to play hard every game and help my teammates as best as I can. Whether that’s on defense, offense, and my coaches and my teammates are giving me a lot of confidence and I feel like that’s just helping me get settled in,” Briggs said.
Briggs surpassed the 1,000-point mark earlier in the season and has shown the ability to score in bunches during her collegiate career.
If Maryland can continue to limit its turnovers and receive valuable contributions for others, the Terps’ offense could be dangerous the rest of the way.
Maryland hit a minor speed bump prior to halftime, then dominated the second half to extend its winning streak to four.
Maryland has nine newcomers on its roster, which means it doesn’t have much experience playing with one another.
It is expected that the Terps will play in several close games this season, providing adversity to a fairly new team.
After taking a 24-15 lead after the first quarter, Maryland looked to build on its fast start.
Minnesota clawed back and began to knock down its shots. With under three minutes until intermission, the Golden Gophers’ momentum cut Maryland’s lead to six. The momentum seemed as if it completely swung in Minnesota’s direction, but the Terps’ second-half response quickly halted its comeback attempt.
“We talked about their run that they had. They’re a Big Ten team. They’re very competitive and really talented. It was [time to] weather the storm and I think we did that,” Miller said. “Coming out of halftime, we really wanted to make sure they didn’t go on another run. So we were just playing better defense, playing harder, and running in transition.”
The Terps scored 35 points in the third quarter and ultimately put the game out of reach.
Maryland was 25-of-43 (58%) from the field in the second half and was effective at getting favorable looks at the rim.
With shots falling at ease, Maryland’s offense was increasingly difficult to stop. The ball moved with precision and athletes were aggressive in their drives to the rim.
Maryland senior forward Faith Masonius credits the team’s dedication in practice for making improvements on both ends of the floor.
“Our chemistry has come a long way. We [have] started to become more aggressive on defense, our offense is starting to flow more and we’re kind of just getting into the play and having more fun playing with each other. So we’ve definitely grown a lot as a team,” Masonius said.
As we shift into 2023, Maryland will look to continue its winning ways, as notable conference matchups await.