No. 15 Maryland women’s basketball was coasting to its sixth straight victory, giving Wisconsin fits for the majority of the evening.
It was not a typical Maryland offensive explosion, but Wisconsin’s offense was completely stymied.
The Terps rattled off many extended runs, and they all but officially wrapped the game up in the third quarter. Maryland’s defense held Wisconsin scoreless for over four and a half minutes in the middle of the third quarter, epitomizing the difficult night it was for the Badgers on the offensive end.
Maryland held the Badgers to 34% shooting and forced 26 Wisconsin turnovers, making the night miserable for head coach Marissa Moseley’s squad. The 43 points that Maryland allowed were the fewest it has given up this season. Behind its defense, the Terps cruised to a 70-43 win.
“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,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “So I love the fact that we set the tone on both ends defensively, and then getting everyone involved on the offensive end.”
Wednesday was Maryland’s annual Play4Kay Pink Game, where the Terps sported special pink warmups in support of breast cancer awareness.
The game started in an absurd manner, as a shot clock malfunction with the light behind the backboard staying on led to an administrative technical foul being called on Maryland. Graduate student guard Katie Nelson nailed the free throw, and Wisconsin held a 1-0 lead before the jump ball even happened.
Despite the weird beginning, Maryland jumped out to a 9-4 early lead, and sophomore guard Taisiya Kozlova was the first player off the bench, not redshirt junior forward Mimi Collins. With junior guard Ashley Owusu out with an ankle sprain, Kozlova was forced to step in as the Terps’ seventh rotation player last Sunday against Nebraska and once again saw extended minutes against Wisconsin.
Graduate student forward/guard Chloe Bibby, playing her best basketball of the season, got off on the right foot against the Badgers, scoring eight points by the first media timeout.
Sensing danger already, Moseley burned a timeout with about two minutes to play in the first quarter. Wisconsin, which came into Wednesday with a 6-16 record, was down 19-8 and on the wrong side of a Maryland 8-0 run.
The Terps increased their dominance to an 11-0 stretch spanning nearly five minutes to end the quarter and held a 22-8 lead through 10 minutes.
Unfortunately for the Badgers, not much changed in the second frame.
Wisconsin reached the 10-turnover mark not even three minutes into the second quarter, and Maryland unleashed another extended 11-0 run lasting exactly five minutes.
Leading 36-17 with 1:15 to play in the second quarter, head coach Brenda Frese inserted freshman forward Emma Chardon into the game for rare first-half minutes. Wednesday’s game would prove as a valuable opportunity to get some sparsely used bench players real Big Ten minutes.
Maryland held a 41-22 stranglehold at the halftime break, and Bibby led the Terps with 11 points. Sophomore forward/guard Angel Reese and freshman guard Shyanne Sellers each had 10 points, as well.
“It’s been trying to adjust to this point guard position, so I’m just happy to do it,” Sellers said.
The third quarter, which featured another long scoring drought, was much of the same. Reese scored five third-quarter points to get to a game-high 15 points.
Maryland only allowed eight points in the period to grab a 56-30 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
It was business as usual for the Terps in the fourth quarter, closing out the Badgers to wrap up a 2-0 homestand. Reese finished with a game-high 19 points.
Three things to know
1. The Chloe Bibby trend continues. Maryland is now 14-2 in games where Bibby has scored at least 10 points. The Terps did not need as many of her points as they had in previous victories this season, but her performance is still noteworthy. Though it may be Miller, Owusu and Reese getting the national recognition, perhaps it is Bibby giving the most impactful minutes out of every player in a Maryland uniform at this moment. Bibby scored 16 points against Wisconsin, and it was the last Bibby’s parents saw before heading back to Australia. She certainly gave them a bunch of great outings to see.
“Some nights I’m gonna be posts or big guards, and then other nights it’s gonna be our guards on the perimeter,” Bibby said. “So I thought our guards did a great job feeding it in, and then, I mean Angel inside is just an awesome passer.”
2. Defensive masterclass. Energy and effort continue to remain common themes in Maryland’s 2021-22 season, and the Terps were not short of either against the Badgers. In a game that was uncompetitive throughout, it felt like Maryland was just running through the motions. However, having one of its best defensive outputs of the season is a great sign for Maryland heading into a difficult part of its schedule.
3. Maryland’s win streak grows to six with tough tasks ahead. The middle of the Big Ten schedule seemed like a great opportunity for the Terps to stack up some wins, and they made sure to take advantage. By winning its 10th game, Maryland broke a third-place tie, at least for now, before the Minnesota-Iowa contest later in the night.
Next, Maryland has its four biggest games to end the regular season. The Terps will travel to Iowa City to face National Player of the Year candidate Caitlin Clark and Iowa before rematches with Ohio State, Michigan and Indiana. A team spokesperson confirmed there is still no word from the conference on if the postponed Dec. 30 game against Illinois will be rescheduled. The Terps will need to make the most of their remaining games to climb the Big Ten standings and improve their tournament resume.
“Definitely love where our chemistry has been built,” Frese said. “I think we’ve improved obviously defensively and in some areas that we really needed to improve on. I think our rebounding is definitely cleaned up, as well. So all areas, obviously we share the basketball extremely well. I thought that was a different combination today with the different lineups we had in there. But when we’re sharing the basketball, that’s when we’re playing some of our best basketball on the offensive end.”