It was not a perfect game for the No. 10 Maryland women’s basketball, but a wide range of contributions earned the Terps a 72-64 win over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday.
Maryland’s next game will be on Jan. 30 against Penn State to close out a two-game home stand.
Here are a few takeaways from Maryland’s win over Michigan.
It was a gritty game.
Both teams traded punches in the early going. On paper, this game was going to be quite close, though Michigan never led in the contest. The Wolverines entered with the third-fewest points in the Big Ten conference and an average of 76 points per game. That was one spot below the Terps in those rankings.
Michigan flexed its height and crisp passing, finding an open player on almost every occasion in the first quarter. Maryland seemed a step behind in defending the perimeter then, but regrouped and revived itself, keeping the game close. After Michigan went up 13-9 midway through the first, the Terps ended the quarter on a 13-2 run over the last 3:25. That momentum continued into halftime as Maryland took a 10-point lead.
The Terps held a double-digit lead through most of the third quarter courtesy of graduate guard Abby Myers. She displayed a bit of everything, from her long-range shooting to her rebounding prowess, finishing with 11 boards. Meyers navigated back screens along the baseline and hit her layups with a light touch.
“For me, it’s always mentality,” Meyers said on her rebounding abilities. “Keep things simple: attack the boards, rebound, pass. If the shots aren't falling how can I contribute to the team and I guess I had a nose for the ball today.”
Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico commended Maryland for its defense and also said this game was a prime example why the Big Ten conference is so deep and competitive this season.
“I think it shows the strength of the Big Ten conference,” Barnes Arico said. “Stronger than it’s ever been before and I think it was great for people to see two great basketball teams.”
Points off turnovers.
It is the stat that shows a team can gel on both ends of the floor: points off turnovers. Through the first 16 minutes of the game, Maryland translated 13 Michigan turnovers into 17 points. Michigan had only two points in that category.
Terps senior and projected WNBA lottery pick Diamond Miller showcased her acrobatic layups, including one where she drew a foul and converted an and-one opportunity in front of the sparse returning-from-winter-break crowd.
There was an aggressiveness to that part of the game which Terps head coach Brenda Frese liked and said her team came out with an attack mentality and handled the challenge well.
Frese opted to keep Miller in the game after she picked up her third foul in the third quarter. As time trickled down, a fourth was assessed to her and it allowed Michigan to slowly eat away at the Maryland lead. This was the seventh game Miller finished with at least four fouls. With 8:47 left in the game, the Wolverines cut it to single digits. Maryland didn’t look behind in the race to the finish line, but knew Michigan was creeping closer. Miller entered back into the game with 6:29 left with Maryland up nine.
With a minute left, the deficit was six after Emily Kiser nailed a 3-pointer that took a bit of the energy out of the arena, and the Wolverines were still in the game if they played their cards right. Michigan had a strong poker face, but Maryland had a better hand since it was able to close out the game despite the foul trouble. The fouling bug spread to Brinae Alexander as well, who ended the game with four.
Miller said after the game that she felt she was a bit aggressive. She knew where some of the fouls came from but said she needs to control what she can control.
Lavender Briggs showed up when Maryland needed her most.
Michigan’s Maddie Nolan knocked down a 3-pointer cutting the game to single digits, and then came Maryland’s Lavender Briggs with one of her own. With 4:24 left in the game, Briggs drained a heavily contested 3-pointer with a hand straight in her face; the ball swished through the basket and Maryland regained a double-digit lead.
While Frese said no lead is safe, that bucket alleviated some of the weight of a potential Michigan comeback.
“That’s a byproduct of all the work Lav’s put in and just staying true to herself knowing it was gonna happen,” Frese said. “I said to myself when I watched [Sara] Scalia from Indiana have the moment that she had, that Lav was due and I’m glad she found it tonight.”
Briggs finished the game with 14 points on near-perfect shooting, going 5-for-7 from the field and 2-for-2 from deep.