After securing a recent road victory over Wisconsin, No. 11 Maryland women’s basketball had revenge on its mind Sunday as it traveled to Pinnacle Bank Arena for a clash with Nebraska.
Maryland senior guard Diamond Miller led all scorers with 20 points as the Terps defense suffocated the Cornhuskers for the 69-54 victory, marking their eighth win away from XFINITY Center.
The Terps swept their two-game road trip and will head home for a Thursday night showdown with No. 14 Michigan.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Maryland’s defense set the tone early.
In their previous matchup, Nebraska scorched Maryland with a season-high 90 points and 12 3-pointers. The Huskers also earned the early-season upset win with a 50% showing from the field.
Sunday’s game was the complete antithesis for the Terps defense. Maryland looked dialed in from the opening possession and its first-quarter performance confirmed that.
Maryland relinquished only 14 first-half points to Nebraska, which marked the fifth-lowest number of points in a half in Nebraska program history.
“It was extremely important [to defend them well] because the first time we played them, they shot so many threes and they were hitting them,” Miller said. “We didn’t want that to happen this time. So we were extra focused on the scout and we executed the game plan.”
The Terps consistently used active hands and swift defensive rotations to frustrate Nebraska‘s ball-handlers.
“I loved the mentality we came out with, especially [on] both ends of the floor but defensively to hold them to a half like we did, I thought was really important,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “We’re going to have nights like that, especially tonight when we didn’t shoot the ball as well as we typically do.”
Maryland sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers’ confidence on the offensive end has been an integral emergence, but her defensive ability has never been a question.
The Terps No. 0’s two steals and single block are glimpses into her impact exhibited in Sunday’s matinee.
As the season progresses, teams will start to sharpen their identity for both their conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament. Maryland’s offense has the firepower to play with the best, but its defense holds the keys to its final destination.
Diamond Miller and Shyanne Sellers are emerging as a top scoring duo in the Big Ten.
Miller (18 points) didn’t ease herself into the game, instead she looked to make her presence felt early and often. The All-Big Ten honoree was aggressive from the first bounce, as she sprinted in transition and finished several strong layups throughout her 32 minutes played.
While Miller missed her three 3-point attempts, she had no difficulty finding her way to the rim and finding teammates for scoring opportunities.
With fewer than three minutes until halftime, Miller’s hard penetration in the paint led to an on-time pass to Sellers for a 3-pointer. The latter rose for her shot immediately and drained it.
Coming into the season, Sellers was seen as a key reserve with the ability to make plays on both ends. Fast forward to now, she is a solidified starter and beginning to string together impressive scoring outings.
In Maryland’s past two victories, the sophomore guard is executing the offense while averaging 20.5 points per game.
Sellers has been working with coaches on ways to use her speed to get in the paint and finish at the rim.
“Coach is very persistent on attacking the paint. I try to stay with that and stay within my game and let the game come to me,” Sellers said. “Once teams start to double down, I start to kick out and I think it just reopens the floor for me.”
Miller is a talented offensive threat in her own right, but Sellers’ scoring ability is starting to become a given at this point.
The Terps’ remaining schedule features multiple electric scoring teams, but they remain in position for a victory with Miller and Sellers getting buckets.
The Terps’ grit produced their eighth road victory.
Maryland entered the season with major roster turnover and wanted to gel quickly in order to remain in contention for the top seed in the conference.
It is tough to get wins in college basketball, but it is almost double the challenge to repeat that trend on the road. Even so, the Terps have traveled to then-No. 7 Notre Dame, Purdue and then-No. 17 Baylor, and left each with victories.
Maryland is 8-1 in its meetings away from College Park and has formed chemistry at the perfect time.
“It says a lot and I think from a mentality [standpoint] it’s hard to go on the road and win. To have that kind of winning record and you can see we thrive and that’s a great sign as we move ahead within the schedule,” Frese said.
One of the highlight plays that exhibited their grit came with seconds to go in the second quarter. Maryland freshman guard Bri McDaniel hounded a Nebraska ball-handler before stealing the ball and heading the other way. McDaniel dribbled the length of the floor, using a Euro-step to score the layup as the buzzer sounded.
The freshman has provided spurts of energy in spot minutes and her teammates have noticed her growth.
“She plays hard. We’re super proud of how much she has grown this season. She’s going to be a dawg. She plays like a dawg already, and we’re just really excited to see what she can continue to do,” Miller said.
Maryland will look to remain focused and continue building on impressive road performances in hopes of getting a few marquee victories in the coming weeks.