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Three takeaways from No. 13 Maryland women’s basketball’s 71-59 loss to No. 9 Michigan

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The Terps lose ground in the race for the Big Ten regular-season title with a loss in Ann Arbor.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

On Sunday afternoon, No. 13 Maryland lost steam in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and fell to No. 9 Michigan, 71-59. The defeat ended the Terps’ eight-game win streak and marked the first loss since Jan. 20. By closing the door on Maryland (20-7, 12-4 Big Ten), Michigan (21-4, 12-3) stayed undefeated at home in conference play this season and pushed its home win stretch to 14.

A 10-0 Michigan run in the fourth was the difference Sunday, and the Wolverines improved to 8-1 against AP-Top 25 teams this year, which is a program record. Several late threes from the visitors made things interesting, but spot-on free-throw shooting iced the game for Michigan.

The last time these two sides met, Maryland held player-of-the-year candidate Naz Hillmon to nine points, which is her season-low and the only time this season she has failed to reach double digits. On Sunday, Hillmon had 14 at the half alone. With 29 points and 11 rebounds, she logged the 46th double-double of her career. Both junior guard Maddie Nolan and freshman guard Laila Phelia had 11 points apiece.

“She’s just a workhorse,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said of Hillmon. “She’s extremely talented but also physical, aggressive. She makes you work for the entire shot clock. That’s what all-Americans are supposed to do.”

Graduate forward Chloe Bibby led the Terps with 15 points, freshman Shyanne Sellers had 11 and junior forward/guard Diamond Miller put up 10. Three scorers reaching double digits may seem pedestrian, but Maryland didn’t have a single player break nine points the last time around.

The Terps did manage to make life difficult for the hosts on defense.

“We forced them into 22 turnovers. We just have to capitalize on that,” Bibby said. “I thought our energy and effort was really there on the defensive end; we just have to turn it into offense.”

Here are several takeaways from Sunday’s loss.

It was a difficult afternoon for Reese.

This season, sophomore forward/guard Angel Reese is averaging 18 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Against Michigan, Maryland’s leading scorer finished with six points and five boards. Foul trouble limited Reese to just three minutes in the third quarter, and her absence allowed the Wolverines to dominate on the glass; they outrebounded the Terps 45-27. Surprisingly, despite the rebounding disparity, Maryland scored five more second-chance points than Michigan.

“Disappointed, obviously, in our rebounding,” Frese said. “That was an area that we really wanted to improve on and didn’t move the needle in that area.”

After picking up her fourth foul early in the final frame, Reese sat from 8:30 to 4:14 but fouled out less than two minutes later. Reese finished the afternoon by matching her season-low. This year, the Baltimore native has struggled against Michigan, scoring just 15 points through two games.

“We missed her rebounding and defensive presence a lot,” Frese said of playing without Reese. “She does so many things for us, so part of the game is that you got to be able to adapt and have other players step up in her absence.”

Poor shooting doomed Maryland.

The away side started the game 0-for-6 from the field, which set the tone for the match. The team finished 33% from the field, 24% from three and 63% from the free-throw line. Collectively, the Terps made only five threes and failed to reach the 60-point mark for just the third time this season.

Michigan shot the ball a little better, going for 49/36/69, but its defense made the difference; the Wolverines held a Terps team averaging 80.3 points per game to 59.

“It was just one of those days,” Sellers said. “I feel like we were getting open looks, and we were getting good shots — they just weren’t falling. So we started attacking a little bit too much in the second half.”

Only three Terps scored in double figures, but just about everyone on the roster had a poor shooting performance. Five players on the court for Maryland missed at least five shots, resulting in just a total of 59 points for the visitors.

Owusu made a return to the lineup.

After missing Maryland’s last four matches with an ankle injury sustained on Feb. 3 versus Michigan State, junior guard Ashley Owusu returned to the lineup Sunday at the Crisler Center.

Although the Virginia native started on the bench, she ended the contest with two points and three assists in 21 minutes. In addition to running the offense, Owusu also guarded Hillmon on multiple defensive possessions.

“I thought she played hard with the minute she gave us,” Frese said of Owusu’s outing. “She’s playing through some pain and didn’t quite have the lift. It was an uncharacteristic layup that she missed there late in the game that normally a healthy Ashley is going to make, so it’s just getting her back with timing and rhythm to get her ready here for the postseason.”

Owusu ended up with only three shot attempts from the floor, while both of her points came from the free-throw line. It was just the third time all season that Owusu played 21 minutes or fewer in a game that she appeared in.