For the 18th time, No. 17 Maryland women’s basketball met Michigan State on the court.
A 67-62 win gave the Terps their 16th win in the series as they continued their dominance over the Spartans. Thursday was the only time these two teams will meet in the regular season. Last year, Maryland bested Michigan State by a collective score of 185-139 over two matches.
But last season’s results meant nothing in a game that saw Maryland lose its floor general — junior guard Ashley Owusu injured her ankle — and come dangerously close to picking up another conference loss.
“I just saw great toughness by this team, tenacity,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “You talk about the adversity we faced coming in the day of the game, losing Ashley in the second quarter, I thought we grew as a team on both ends of the floor.”
The Terps had to withstand 22 points from Nia Clouden, one of the top guards in the nation, but contributions from both the starters and bench unit helped Maryland improve to 8-3 in conference play.
The away side also put in an impressive defensive shift. The Terps held the Spartans to under 40% shooting from the field and 33% from the three-point line.
Here are several takeaways from Thursday’s win.
What’s the status of Ashley Owusu?
After all-league guard Ashley Owusu went down Thursday night with an ankle injury, a hush fell over Breslin Center as everyone in the arena waited to see if she could get up.
Owusu could not put any pressure on her leg and had to be helped off the court. The extent of the injury is unknown, and Frese said the Owusu would be evaluated in College Park in the coming days.
If the Virginia native misses any time, it would be a significant blow to Maryland’s postseason aspirations. Owusu is averaging 14.3 points and four assists this season while playing 30 minutes a night. The team already is without junior Faith Masonius, who tore her ACL earlier in the season, so the top players will have to pick up the slack moving forward.
Owusu only played for eight minutes against Michigan State before going down with the injury. She collected two points on 1-for-3 shooting and also dished out three assists prior to exiting.
Coming into the meeting with the Spartans, the junior started in all 22 of Maryland’s games this season. With her potential absence moving forward, other guards on the roster will be forced to shoulder a few extra burdens. Graduate guard Katie Benzan and junior guard Diamond Miller, who combine to add over 23 points per game, will likely have their numbers called often if Owusu is absent.
How much more will Angel Reese have to do?
Against Michigan State and without Owusu, sophomore standout Angel Reese took control of things in the post. The Baltimore native had a game-high 25 points on 9-for-18 shooting from the field. It was the ninth time she’s had a 20-plus point outing this season. The big guard also had nine rebounds, six of which were on the offensive glass, in 26 minutes of play.
“Having confidence in my teammate that they’re going to make the shot but knowing that if they miss I’ll get the cleanup,” Rese said. “I think I just have confidence in my teammates and they know that I’m going to always get the offensive rebounds.”
And while Maryland will continue to rely on Reese, it has a bevy of players who can make things happen on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. One player, in particular, who might be given more responsibility moving forward is freshman Shyanne Sellers; the Ohio native had nine points, seven rebounds and five assists in 35 minutes against Michigan State.
“I just think my teammates put me in really good positions to be successful,” Sellers said. “We were down a body, but we’ve been there before, so it wasn’t anything new for me. So I just kind of had to step up and play my part.”
The Terps walked away with the away victory.
When the Terps play at home this season, they are 10-1. The only game they’ve lost at Xfinity Center was to then-No. 11 Michigan. Things slip marginally on the road as the team stands at 6-3.
Maryland has dropped true road games to then-No. 1 South Carolina as well as then-No. 8 Indiana in overtime and then-No. 25 Ohio State.
The Terps kept it close in all three of those matchups despite not closing out the game how they may have hoped to do so. However, against the Spartans, that narrative was slightly different.
Breslin is a difficult stadium to play in, and Maryland flew in on Thursday morning due to a cancellation on Wednesday. But despite traveling the day of and missing one of its top players, Maryland hung tough for a gritty win in East Lansing.
“You’re seeing two great teams,” Frese said of Thursday’s affair. “Obviously, Michigan State at home is a really tough team on both ends of the floor. They’ve had some great wins, and they had some players that really got hot at different points. I thought the matchups were even, and then luckily, we made a few more stops.”
Maryland has six regular season matchups remaining with just two of those set for the road. Both the Terps’ matchup with Iowa and rematch against a ranked Michigan team will be played away.