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No. 7 Maryland women’s basketball makes statement in 96-68 win over No. 6 Iowa

The Terps never looked back after they took and 18-point lead at the half behind an electric three-point performance.

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics | @TerpsWBB

The score was 56-38 in favor of Iowa at halftime when it met Maryland women’s basketball for the first time on Feb. 2. Junior guard Caitlin Clark sliced and diced her way to a historic performance: 42 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

Maryland tried to claw its way back after an abysmal start to the game, but ultimately fell short, 96-82.

Tuesday night, the script was flipped, as No. 7 Maryland women’s basketball dominated No. 6 Iowa en route to a 96-68 victory.

“We’ve always had just terrific responses that I think continues to show you what makes this team pretty elite,” head coach Brenda Frese said.

Chants of “Airball! Airball!” and “Overrated” rang through XFINITY Center. They were directed to Clark throughout the second half every time she touched the ball. Maryland held her to one of her poorest performances in recent weeks, scoring 18 points to go along with six turnovers.

Along with graduate forward Monika Czinano, who along with Clark combined for 70 last time out, Maryland’s defense on them was sharp.

“Limiting their touches was really vital. Monica only got five field goal attempts and that’s Caitlin’s main person who she passes to. So just dialing in and lock in on those two,” sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers said.

The sharpshooter on the court Tuesday was senior guard Brinae Alexander, who had the best game of her collegiate career, knocking down a career-high six 3-pointers in a 24-point performance.

Remember that 18-point advantage the Hawkeyes had at the half just 19 days ago. Tuesday, Maryland took an 18-point advantage of its own into the break, 46-28.

It wasn’t easy by any means, but in front of a raucous home crowd, No. 7 Maryland did what it needed to do from the onset.

Well, a raucous crowd to most. Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said, “The crowd was not a factor...there weren’t 9,000 people.”

Iowa came in leading the nation in scoring offense, averaging over 88 points per game. The Terps were locked in early.

That was large in part to Sellers, who rebounded in a big way after a two-point performance at Michigan State this past Saturday.

She felt it early, knocking down two triples in the opening frame. She also had a surprising assignment on defense, or lack thereof, as for the first time in three games against Iowa, she was not the primary defender on Clark. Sellers came close to a triple-double Tuesday, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Senior guard Lavender Briggs had the assignment of Clark and was excellent, finishing with a season-high 19 points.

“I felt really good during my warmup,” Briggs said. “I was knocking down my shots and I was just really confident and positive going into this game. It feels great to finally have a game like this.”

She gave the Terps their biggest momentum push of the first half, knocking down a three to extend Maryland’s lead to 28-22 with 7:25 to go, forcing Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder to call a timeout.

That came seconds after Abby Meyers broke a tie by sending Clark to the ground and nailing a three of her own in the All-American’s face.

That kicked off a 14-0 run in a 150-second span for the Terps, who could not miss in the second quarter.

When Maryland has needed a spark this season, it’s been Diamond Miller who has come to the rescue. She got in foul trouble early, having to sit out most of the first half.

Another player stepped up, though — a 6-foot forward from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The star of the first half: Alexander. She went nuclear as the run extended to 26-2. The Vanderbilt transfer had the crowd — and Iowa’s bench — shaking their heads. Five consecutive threes from her gave Maryland a 20-point lead with four minutes to go in the half. Her electric half helped the Terps to 10 threes in the opening 20 minutes.

“I haven’t felt the most confident in my shot lately. But everyone tells me, you know, keep shooting, you’re a great shooter. You’re still shooting a great percentage. They’ll fall as long as you focus on other things. And I think what also helps is, you know, seeing the ball go in the basket,” Alexander said.

Maryland’s unhinged second quarter, in which it outscored Iowa 27-8, was electric, but the defense might have been more impressive. It held Clark and the Hawkeyes to a lackluster 4-for-19 from the field.

And it continued that momentum into the second half. Despite Iowa being one of the most dangerous teams in the nation, with the most dangerous player, the Terps stayed with it for a full 40 minutes.

Frankly, the Terps hit their shots, and the Hawkeyes didn’t. The Terps finished 34-71 from the field and 14-26 from three. The Hawkeyes shot just 34.8% tonight, and finished 11-38 from distance.

“My teammates just shot the lights out today,” Miller said. And I’m just happy they’re confident because we’re gonna need them in the long run.”

Last week, Maryland beat then-No. 10 Ohio State by 36 points. Today, it took down No. 6 Iowa by 28.

“You talk about teams like that and we were able to dominate the games,” Frese said in reference to the two top-10 victories.

It now has four top-10 wins on the season.

It was an absurd performance by Maryland in every facet, which showed why it’s one of the best teams in the country.

Three things to know

1. Maryland avenged an ugly defeat by shooting the lights out. Just over two weeks ago, the Terps couldn’t stop Iowa’s high-octane offense. The Hawkeyes got out to a monster first half lead and never looked back. Tonight, Maryland had a different energy from the start, and pulled off a huge win against Iowa with an explosive offensive performance.

In its past two games, Maryland shot a combined 4-of-31 from beyond the arc. It knocked down 14 triples tonight.

2. Clark and Czinano were contained. The best one-two punch in the nation destroyed Maryland last time out, combining for 70 points. Tonight, Maryland’s zone defense had the pair under duress all game long. They finished with a combined 22 points tonight, 48 less than their total on Feb. 2. Czinano scored a season-low four points.

“That’s what I love about this group,” Frese said. “They took it to heart back when we went to Iowa and Clark and Czinano kind of had their way with us.”

3. A giant win on the national stage. With just two games to go in the regular season, every game matters for seeding in the NCAA tournament. A top-10 showdown provided an opportunity for a big resume-building win, and the Terps shined in a dominating performance. This was a statement win, showing their ability to not only respond, but take it to one of the best teams in the nation.