No. 15 Maryland women's basketball’s 70-43 win against Wisconsin started unlike any other game this season; a clock malfunction before tip-off resulted in the Terps receiving an administrative technical foul and giving up a 1-0 lead to the Badgers while the clock still read 10:00.
From the coaching staff to the players of both teams, pink rained at Xfinity Center for the annual Play4Kay Pink Game to support breast cancer awareness. There were pink headbands, shoes and even a blazer.
“The Pink Game is always a game with a little bit of extra meaning for each of us who have had someone that has been impacted by cancer,” head coach Brenda Frese said after the match.
From start to finish, Maryland dominated on both sides of the ball to pick up its sixth consecutive win and improved to 10-3 in the Big Ten. In the all-time series between the two units (11 meetings), Wisconsin has never defeated its eastern rivals. Also of note, with 16 points for graduate forward Chloe Bibby, the Terps improved to 14-2 in games the Aussie reaches double figures.
“We talked about before the game how we wanted to set the tone for this last push in the regular season, which sets up for March,” Frese said. “I love the fact that we set the tone on both ends defensively and then getting everyone involved on the offensive end.”
After giving the team valuable minutes Sunday against Nebraska, sophomore guard Taisiya Kozlova got involved early once again, compensating for the continued absence of junior guard Ashley Owusu, who remains out with an ankle injury.
Here are several takeaways from Wednesday’s all-around win.
Suffocating defense from the home team.
A couple of nights after shutting down Nebraska, Maryland’s defense again was up to the task of quieting its opposition’s top scorers; every player who took the court logged at least one steal.
The Badgers’ top bucket-getter coming into the game was Julie Pospisilova (14.2 points), but the Terps kept her to just nine on 4-for-12 shooting.
Maryland packed the paint and closed out with intention while holding Wisconsin to 34% from the field and 36% from three. The visitors also coughed the ball up 26 times, which the Terps turned into 27 points. Wisconsin’s 43 points also were a season-low.
“We’ve been working on our defense all year,” Bibby said. “So it’s really just great to see that we’re getting those rotations with dropping in front because it’s something that we’re consistently working on every day.”
Three different Terps recorded at least two steals in the game. Bibby led the way with five and then guards Shyanne Sellers and Katie Benzan followed her with four and three steals, respectively.
It was a day of dominant defense for the home side and the Badgers had four players commit at least three turnovers.
Sellers keeps bolstering her resume.
For the 10th time this season, freshman Shyanne Sellers scored in double figures.
The Ohio native has filled the void left by Owusu. Without the team’s regular floor general, Sellers had the opportunity to take on lead guard duties Wednesday night. Given the freedom to run, the top-25 recruit in last year’s class had one of her most productive outings of the year. In 33 minutes, she had 12 points, five rebounds and four steals.
With Owusu still day-to-day, Frese and her coaching staff will continue to rely on the first-year guard for valuable minutes in the final four contests.
“I kind of look at who we have out there, just kind of play the personnel and kind of see what the defense is giving us,” Sellers said of how she operates as the team’s point guard. “Just trying to call players and get everyone open and get the best shot available. It’s been fun trying to adjust to this.”
Sellers’ 12 points against the Badgers were the most that she has scored since Jan. 23. She has put up at least nine points in each of the past three matchups. Her mark of five rebounds in the Wisconsin win was also the third straight game that she recorded five rebounds or more.
Points in the paint favored Maryland’s side.
The size difference in the paint was noticeable every time the hosts looked to push it inside.
Six-foot forward Brooke Schramek of Wisconsin had the unenviable task of guarding 6-foot-3 Angel Reese inside and she had limited success. Reese had her way under the basket, logging 19 points and nine rebounds.
Maryland also outscored its opponent 32-16 in the paint and outrebounded the Badgers 34-22. But it wasn’t just Reese who found success under the hoop; junior guard Diamond Miller had 11 points and seven assists.
“Wisconsin was small, and we needed the ball to go inside and we needed to understand the game plan,” Frese said. “That’s how it’s going to be in March — taking what those teams are trying to take away from you or what they’re throwing out there or where our advantage is.”
Maryland was able to continually go inside on the Badgers’ defense and it went 13-for-20 on layup attempts. Not to mention that the Terps also claimed victory in the offensive rebounding battle as well, outdoing the Badgers 14-6 in that category.
The dominance in the paint helped Maryland extend its lead on the scoreboard, and ultimately, its size proved too much for Wisconsin to counteract.