Five hours before tipoff against Penn State, Maryland women’s basketball was announced as the No. 8 team in the AP Top 25, which gave it a bit of motivation to live up to that ranking in its dominant win over Monday night.
With a daunting schedule ahead of the Terps, here are some takeaways from their 87-66 win over the Nittany Lions.
Out and running early.
The Terps used a 20-2 run in the opening quarter to hold Penn State to nine points after the first 10 minutes. Twelve of Maryland’s 29 first-quarter points were generated off eight Nittany Lion turnovers. That’s an area the Terps have been particularly successful in of late. Senior Diamond Miller and the entire offense found their flow from the opening tip. She completed acrobatic layups and soft floaters while graduate guard Abby Meyers knocked down some 3-pointers.
Miller sustained an injury early in the second quarter and darted straight to the locker room with a trainer, but it did not deter the momentum in the first half as she returned minutes later. The Terps had a 41-18 advantage going into halftime.
Getting out on an early run and maintaining it has been something Maryland has been quite good at lately and the team has made it a priority to do so.
“The trust and connectedness, it’s taken time to mesh so many new players together and teach the defense, it’s starting to really click. I think our effort and our energy is a lot greater,” head coach Brenda Frese said.
Bri McDaniel and Mila Reynolds impressed in the second half.
Of the freshmen that got into the game Monday night, 5-foot-10 guard Bri McDaniel stayed in the longest. Frese has said multiple times the freshman group has taken longer to become acclimated and adjust to this level of play. Freshman forward Mila Reynolds also had a couple of big buckets late in the game that solidified the victory in what was her first meaningful contribution in recent games.
Frese had only positive things to say about McDaniel after her eight-point performance, as well as Reynolds.
“Bri and Mila’s practices this week were indicative of the game they played today,” Frese said. “They’re coming in and understanding what we need from them and how hard they have to play ... We need to extend that depth and you can see Bri’s motor and how hard she plays defensively and is willing to do anything for the team. Mila gives us someone who can back down low and be aggressive.”
McDaniel has noticed the game slowing down for her over the course of the season and that has allowed her to thrive on the court.
The best is yet to come.
Sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers said that the Terps have not played their best basketball yet. Still, they are 9-2 in Big Ten play, are firing in all the right places and are winners of five straight.
“Sky’s the limit like I said earlier, we’re playing pretty good basketball and obviously there’s things that we can work on so I think we're trending in the right direction,” said Sellers, who had 15 points Monday on 5-for-8 shooting.
With games against No. 6 Iowa and No. 10 Ohio State in a six-day span on the horizon, if there is any time for Maryland to be playing its best basketball, it’s right now. Those two programs are juggernauts in the Big Ten and some of the best teams in the country for obvious reasons.