No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball rode a complete performance in its 79-54 victory over Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois, on Thursday.
Maryland senior guard Diamond Miller provided 18 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and a pivotal bucket in the second quarter that led to a dominant 10 minutes of play.
The Terps (20-5) moved to 11-3 in Big Ten play and will return home Sunday for a 1 p.m. clash with Illinois at XFINITY Center.
Here are three takeaways from Thursday night’s action.
Maryland head coach Brenda Frese clinched her 19th straight 20-win season.
Another season, another accomplishment for Maryland head coach Brenda Frese.
Frese won the program’s first national title in 2006 and has led the Terps to three Final Four appearances.
When the 2022-23 Maryland roster was completely assembled, it was hard to imagine 20 wins this quickly. The Terps were No. 17 in the preseason AP poll, but roster turnover caused uncertainty. Frese — with nine newcomers and lacking adequate size — has found different ways to win meaningful games this season.
The Terps victory on Thursday clinched Frese’s 19th consecutive 20-win season in College Park.
“I can’t say enough about our coaching staff and the job they’ve done this season. So just the buy-in from the players and putting it all together is pretty cool to see.” Frese said
Maryland has maintained success in Frese’s tenure, with this year looking quite different from year’s past.
Frese has experimented with different defensive sets this season, as the Terps shifted to an extended 2-3 zone on Thursday night. The change in defense caused havoc for Northwestern and began to turn into favorable opportunities in transition.
“I thought it (the 2-3 zone) gave them problems, as you saw they only made two threes. I thought we really got better tonight in our zone.” Frese said
The Terps dismantled Northwestern, and earned another impressive milestone under their passionate head coach along the way.
Winning 20 games in a season is an accomplishment in itself, but doing it for nearly two consecutive decades is worthy of a standing ovation. Whether Maryland is in the Big Ten or the ACC, Frese has set a standard of excellence for her program.
Diamond Miller led a resurgent second quarter.
After a first quarter where Northwestern hit first, Maryland played the following period with a sense of urgency and focus.
With fewer than eight minutes in the second quarter, Maryland senior guard Diamond Miller made a swift spin then proceeded to finish at the rim to trim their deficit 20-19. Miller sprinted back on defense and was spotted yelling ‘Let’s go.’ At that moment, the All-Big Ten guard took over the game.
Miller showed off her playmaking skills — as her penetration paved a way for a Brinae Alexander layup — resulting in a lead it would never relinquish.
“I feel like sometimes we are up and down and [I thought] we were low. I was trying to do anything to get my team going.” Miller said
A few possessions later, she dribbled hard in transition before dropping a bounce pass to Abby Meyers for a layup.
The Terps’ offensive ball movement (five assists) led to a dominant 18-2 scoring margin in the quarter. While their defense held the Wildcats to a 0-for-13 showing from the field and their first points with under 30 seconds until intermission.
Maryland wouldn’t look back, as they proceeded to win the following two quarters, 45-32. While many may frown at a competitive first quarter, Maryland’s dominant performance is an encouraging sign as it moves towards the final four games.
“Disappointed in our first quarter, but I thought it was a terrific response after that. The next three quarters we played extremely hard and were more in tuned to what we needed to do.” Frese said.
Freshman guard Bri McDaniel continues to flash potential.
Maryland freshman guard Bri McDaniel grew up in Chicago, approximately 20.2 miles away from Welsh-Ryan Arena.
With family in attendance, McDaniel scored a career-high 14 points and drained 4-of-6 shots from behind the arc, flashing her progress this season in her first collegiate season.
“It felt good to come back home and play. It’s kind of hard being away from my family, because we’re so family oriented,” McDaniel said. “Being able to see every last family member that I had here [and to] play for them was amazing.”
The freshman guard’s movement without the basketball paved the way for an impressive performance.
With under two minutes remaining in the first quarter, McDaniel drilled a corner 3-pointer for her first points of the game. McDaniel’s confidence grew from distance with shots in the first three quarters.
With a 48-31 lead in hand, the freshman guard led the charge in transition, ultimately receiving the hockey assist in Diamond Miller’s effortless layup.
The Chicago native leads Maryland’s freshman class with eight minutes a game and has been making the most of her time on the court. She’s active in the passing lane and consistently contesting opposing shots. Thursday’s homecoming was a complete performance on both ends for the freshman guard.
“That’s what she’s capable of doing. Every single night she’s playing hard and she’s a special player as you can see.” Frese said.
Maryland has four games remaining in the season, with two being highly anticipated top-25 rematches. The Terps will look to continue building momentum as soon as Sunday with a few weeks to go until the Big Ten Tournament.