The No. 4-seed Maryland women’s basketball team is hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament at the Xfinity Center this weekend.
Maryland imposed its will on Delaware from the start of the game en route to its dominant 102-71 victory.
The Terps had five players who scored in double figures, led by junior guard Ashley Owusu who scored 24 points on an efficient 10-14 from the field. Owusu also added a game-high six assists.
Maryland continued to see success at the Xfinity Center, as they are now 15-1 at home this season and one win shy of advancing to the Sweet 16 in Spokane, Washington.
Maryland’s offense dynamic versatility was on display.
Maryland looked determined to find Reese inside from the opening tip.
Owusu and graduate guard Katie Benzan consistently camped out on the perimeter to give Reese time to seal her defender in the paint. Reese’s dominant presence led her to score three effortless layups in the first quarter.
Once the Terps established Reese in the paint, they began to have their way on the offensive end.
Maryland junior guard Diamond Miller showcases why many believe she is destined for the WNBA following her playing career in College Park.
Miller was aggressive the entire game, wreaking havoc on the Delaware defense in a plethora of ways. The New Jersey native consistently dribbled with determination not to be denied at the rim, as she scored 23 points in the contest.
“These last two weeks I’ve just been working hard trying to get back my flow again because I don’t want to play like I played in Indiana.” Miller said. “So I’ll just continue to stay focused and do what’s best for my team.”
Owusu, who has now scored over 20 points in two consecutive, seems to have gotten her swagger back. The Virginia native has been dealing with a lingering ankle sprain, suffered on Feb. 3 versus Michigan State causing her to miss a few games in February.
Owusu was back to rocking defenders to sleep with her nasty in and out crossover, before making sudden moves to finish in the lane.
“Yeah, Ash was her true self today,” Benzan said after the game. “It was fun to just see her excel. We’ve seen the behind the scenes work that she’s putting in day in and day out. So just to see her succeed, I’m just so happy for her. Let’s just keep it rolling.”
Owusu looked spry and healthy making plays for others, as she dished out six assists while recording a mere one turnover.
“Yeah, with Ash being the floor general I thought the team was executing and setting great screens,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “Angel giving us that inside-outside presence, which opened it up. And then Katie, really shooting the ball with confidence.”
The Terps were firing on all cylinders from behind the arc.
Maryland has shown the ability to play multiple styles, depending on what the game requires. But when the Terps are cashing out from three, opponents are in for a long night.
After making zero of their 12 attempted 3-point shots against Indiana in the Big Ten tournament, the Terps bounced back in this one.
In the first half, Maryland graduate guard Katie Benzan led a 3-point barrage that saw her cash in four times. With 1:26 in the second quarter, Benzan shot a 30 foot 3-pointer that swished into the basket, to extend the Maryland lead to 45-32.
The graduate guard kept the hot streak going in the second half, as she drained a 3-pointer at the top of the key to pushing Maryland’s lead to 52-39.
Benzan would not be the only one cashing in on the 3-point party at the Xfinity Center.
Maryland graduate forward Chloe Bibby knocked down her second 3-pointer of the game on a beautiful pick and pop play with junior guard Diamond Miller.
Through three quarters, Maryland shot 56% from behind the arc, on 9-of-16 attempts from 3-point range. The Terps finished the game 10-for-20 from 3-point range marking the fourth time the team shot 50% or higher from deep.
The Terps defense stifled Delaware’s only source of offense the entire game.
Maryland knew it had its hands full when they found out they would take on Delaware in the first round because of the Blue Hems electric scorer Jasmine Dickey.
Miller had the challenge of trying to make things difficult for Dickey and she did an outstanding job.
Although Dickey scored 31 points, she was 12 of 32 from the field and was constantly forced to make plays over the outstretched length of Maryland defenders.
“They were just the bigger team overall. They’re [Maryland] bigger guards so you have to shoot a little bit higher.” Dickey said. “Attacking the rim was a little bit tough too, but I think it was the ability not to get comfortable.”
Miller consistently kept her body on Dickey and communicated to her fellow Terps when Delaware set screens to give the guard breathing room to score.
The Terps harassed her the entire game and made her work for her buckets.
Maryland played terrific defense on the others, as Delaware only had one other player with at least 10 points despite the Blue Hens having two other players average over 10 points per game.
Maryland was locked in defensively and it paid dividends, as Delaware shot 35.9% from the field while the Terps managed to shoot at nearly a 60% clip.