No. 13 Maryland women’s basketball secured its sixth straight win Saturday, taking down Michigan State, 94-85.
Michigan State came in with palpable momentum after getting its first two Big Ten wins of the year: an upset over No. 3 Indiana and a seven-point win over Northwestern.
Maryland was riding a high of its own entering Saturday, and it capitalized on the momentum. Saturday marked just the second time this season the Terps have gone north of 90 points in a game. The win brought plenty of positives that had head coach Brenda Frese smiling postgame, from the assist-to-turnover ratio to four of the five starters scoring in double digits.
Maryland is better when Lavender Briggs is better.
When Maryland recruited Briggs to College Park, it knew it was getting a dynamic scorer. Perhaps it took longer than expected coming off an injury, but Briggs is finally finding her groove offensively.
Briggs had a solid outing against Rutgers on Jan. 2, recording 10 points and eight rebounds. Saturday, her offense helped facilitate an early 10-0 run for the Terps in the first quarter. Briggs finished with a season-high 15 points and seven rebounds.
She also had a block early in the second quarter that translated into an Abby Meyers 3-pointer on the other end for Maryland. Briggs also had a big 3-point bucket midway through the fourth quarter. It was her third straight game scoring double digits.
“I tried to play hard, tried to play defense and get my teammates shots,” Briggs said. “I know they’re gonna find me and get me shots — and easy shots at that — and crash the boards as hard as I can.”
Frese praised Briggs and put her out on the court to start the second half.
“I loved the confidence that she was playing with and shooting the basketball, being able to get on the glass for us offensively as well as defensively,” Frese said. “I know her defense is always gonna be there so the fact that she’s just playing at such a high level with confidence ... we need her on the floor.”
Maryland knows how to command pace and answer back.
Whenever the Spartans got an and-one or made a 3-pointer to tie the game up, the Terps answered back.
Whether it was a 3-pointer from Meyers with the shot clock expiring or a Diamond Miller over-the-head circus shot, Maryland showed it had a stake in the game the whole way and kept any Spartan lead to a minimum. Miller missed her first two layups, and it even surprised her that they did not go in.
After trailing 43-42 early in the third quarter, Maryland responded with a 15-0 run spanning just over three minutes. It outscored Michigan State 28-8 to end the third quarter and went up by 17 with about four minutes left in the game.
The third quarter was the story for the Terps.
The age-old adage is “don't poke the sleeping bear.” Don’t provoke Shyanne Sellers either.
When Spartans clapped in her face or committed an offensive foul on her, she figured out how to make the opponent pay for it. She was instrumental in facilitating a phenomenal third quarter for the Terps, who outscored the Spartans 30-11 in the frame. The period was capped with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Bri McDaniel to put Maryland up, 70-51. A majority of the Terps’ points were scored in the paint, as they managed to keep Michigan State from establishing a presence down low. The Spartans recorded only eight points in the paint in the second half.
Sellers called it a “change of focus” in the third quarter for Maryland to explode as it did.
“After halftime, we regroup to talk about things that we need to work on and conditioning our focus to lock in defensively,” Sellers said.
The next game for the Terps will be on Jan. 12 against Mackenzie Holmes — the No. 2 scorer in the Big Ten — and No. 4 Indiana.