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No. 13 Maryland women’s basketball uses huge third quarter to beat Michigan State, 94-85

Led by Diamond Miller’s 25 points, five Terps scored in double figures.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Twitter @TerpsWBB

No. 13 Maryland women’s basketball and Michigan State headed into halftime even at 40 apiece in a highly competitive first half between two of the hottest teams in the Big Ten.

As the third quarter began, Maryland’s defense looked to immediately apply pressure for chances to break the tie.

The Terps would do just that, led by star senior guard Diamond Miller. Michigan State senior forward Taiyier Parks secured a defensive rebound, but the active hands of Miller jarred the ball loose.

Miller collected the steal and put the layup in to give Maryland a 42-40 advantage.

Maryland never looked back from there, dominating Michigan State in the third quarter by a wide 30-11 margin and cruising to a 94-85 victory at the XFINITY Center in College Park.

“We’ve been in so many battles. I don’t think we even flinch when games get close. Luckily our nonconference schedule has prepared us for these battles in conference play and we’re continuing to grow.” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said.

The Terps (13-3) moved to 4-1 in Big Ten play and extended their winning streak to five games.

Maryland and Michigan State began the Saturday afternoon matchup in opposite directions. The latter made a concerted effort to establish an inside presence with sophomore forward Isaline Alexander.

On the Spartans’ first two possessions, Alexander scored on passes thrown into the post, giving Michigan State an early 4-0 lead.

Trailing 7-4 with under six minutes remaining in the opening quarter, the Terps jolted out in transition — looking to move the ball for an easy layup at the rim. Maryland senior guard Abby Meyers penetrated the defense before finding guard Lavender Briggs for a fast break layup.

The Terps had a slight 17-16 lead after the first 10 minutes of action.

As the second quarter began, Meyers’ 3-point prowess began to make an impact.

With just under a minute expired in the period, Meyers hid behind a screen before swishing a 30-foot jumper to extend Maryland’s lead to 20-16.

The Potomac, Maryland, native’s electric first half wouldn’t stop there, as she found similar success only a few possessions later.

Just over two minutes into the second quarter, Maryland sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers found Meyers on the wing with under five seconds remaining on the shot clock.

Meyers sized up her defender before banking in her third 3-pointer of the half. Her triple gave the Terps a 25-19 lead in an eventful period of action between Big Ten teams.

Michigan State graduate guard Kamaria McDaniel began to establish a scoring rhythm, as she recorded 10 points in the second quarter.

With under seven minutes to go in the third quarter, Miller drove aggressively to the rim. As the star guard drew the foul, she extended her right arm to score the difficult layup. Miller converted on the old-fashioned 3-point play, highlighting part of a gigantic 15-0 run by the Terps.

“It makes the team extremely dangerous because people can’t collapse because they’re shooters out there. If you collapse, shooters are going to hit threes and threes are more than twos at the end of the day,” Maryland guard Diamond Miller said. “You just [have to] pick your poison.”

As Maryland held a 57-46 lead midway through the third period, Sellers received the ball on the wing. On a designed isolation, the Ohio native used a nasty crossover to create separation for her pull-up jumper.

Maryland senior guard Brinae Alexander’s steal sent the Terps sprinting in transition for another opportunity to score.

Alexander sprinted toward the right, as Sellers barely trailed behind her. The former delivered the ball to Sellers, only for the latter to find Meyers trailing for a three-on-one layup.

The Terps’ massive third quarter gave them a commanding 70-51 advantage after 30 minutes, a jarring separation from what was a tie game at halftime.

Michigan State fought in the final frame, ultimately outsourcing the Terps by 10 in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late. Maryland wrapped up another strong performance in the first of two meetings between the teams. The Terps will travel to East Lansing, Michigan, for a return game on Feb. 18.

Three things to know

1. Maryland made it six wins in a row. The Terps not only remained hot but also kept pace with Ohio State and others near the top of the Big Ten. A team flooded with new faces, Maryland is starting to come together at the right time. Five Terps scored in double figures, with Diamond Miller scoring a game-high 25 points.

2. Shyanne Sellers is establishing herself as one of the best two-way players in the Big Ten. When Sellers entered her second season in College Park, many knew of her capabilities on the defensive end. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year has scored in double figures 10 times this season, including a 19-point performance Saturday.

Her confidence seems to be growing, as she has been tasked with more ball-handling responsibilities. The star guard is a willing passer, evidenced by her five assists in Saturday’s contest. Sellers’ increased ability to score and defend at a high level makes the Terps a formidable opponent as they move forward in conference play.

3. The Terps can shift their focus to a highly anticipated matchup with No. 6 Indiana. Maryland’s six-game winning streak has come in multiple ways, as it is continuing to build continuity with notable conference matchups featured on the schedule. Maryland will hit the road Thursday for a highly anticipated matchup with No. 6 Indiana — the Hoosiers defeated Maryland twice last season, bouncing the Terps out of the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.

Indiana is a perfect 9-0 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and will look to pick up its third ranked victory of the season next week.