Maryland women’s basketball head coach Brenda Frese looked ready to storm 94 feet when senior guard Diamond Miller was fouled with no call early in the third quarter. She badgered both referees before regaining her composure.
How did the team respond? By forcing the officials to start calling fouls. Shyanne Sellers came down the court on the following possession, knocking down an acrobatic and-one, with Miller doing the same thing a few possessions later to bring Maryland’s lead to 15 points in an eventual 90-54 win.
“Definitely helps to know that my coach has my back especially when teams are being more aggressive towards me,” Miller said. “I mean, she’s not on the court with me so she can’t really do too much but just knowing that she was talking to the refs and stuff.”
The eighth-ranked Terps (19-5, 10-3 Big Ten) haven’t dealt with much adversity this season, but when they have, they’ve responded. After suffering their fifth loss of the season to No. 6 Iowa on Thursday, Frese had no doubt her team would bounce back for their fifth win after a loss this season.
“This team has always been super resilient watching film and learning,” Frese said after the loss. “I know they’ll be ready to play on Sunday.”
The Terps never trailed Sunday as they defeated the No. 10 Buckeyes to regain sole possession of third place in the Big Ten.
Sunday was the team’s annual Play4Kay game honoring breast cancer survivors, with a crowd of 11,176 showing up to XFINITY Center.
“This day is always about playing for something bigger today,” Frese said. “I can’t say enough about the crowd, It was was huge, the energy they brought, the second-largest crowd after the UConn game.”
The 36-point win was Maryland’s largest margin of victory in the conference this season.
“I absolutely believe that we’ve made a statement,” Sellers said.
After surrendering a season-high 96 points to the Hawkeyes four days ago, Maryland looked like a different team defensively Sunday, suffocating the Buckeyes from the jump. Maryland limited Ohio State to a 3-for-15 clip from the field in the opening quarter.
On the offensive end, it was senior guard Abby Meyers who led Maryland with 11 early points.
The Terps got into the bonus with two minutes to go in the first quarter, sending Brinae Alexander to the line, who brought Maryland’s lead up to 10 points.
Maryland ended the quarter on a 12-0 run to take a commanding 19-7 lead heading into the second frame.
Sunday marked the fourth game in the past 10 in which the Terps held their opponent to single digits in the first quarter.
“When you look at you know, our 15 steals to their five and turning them over 24 times, I thought it was our defense that was that much more important,” Frese said.
But it was more-so an uncharacteristic shooting performance from Ohio State, which finished the first half shooting 12-of-32 from the field, despite having the second-best scoring offense in the conference at over 84 points per game.
“We had no consistency today,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said.
The Buckeyes, who escaped a three-game slump on Feb. 1 against Wisconsin, found more of their identity in the second, giving the Terps some issues with a full court press and prompting Frese to shuffle her lineup.
The remainder of the half saw a lot of experience on the floor for Maryland, with a lineup of Sellers, Meyers, Alexander, Miller and Lavender Briggs steering the ship.
That group sustained a lead that roamed around 10 points for most of the half after Ohio State scored a quick nine points to begin the second quarter.
Miller finished the first half with five rebounds, which got her to 500 in her career, adding another milestone to her illustrious time in College Park. She finished the game with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
Maryland came out of the break with a palpable energy that Ohio State struggled to match, especially on the interior. The Terps outscored the Buckeyes 20-14 in the paint in the second half, while also getting to the free-throw line seven more times.
Maryland extended its lead to 20 at the midway point of the third quarter, and the Buckeyes looked to lose a bit of life at that point, turning the ball over five times in the remaining five minutes, with the Terps using a 15-2 run in the span to take a 69-44 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Maryland played all 11 available players in this one, as it clinched its largest victory against a top 10 opponent in program history.
“Three games in seven days should be nothing compared to three in three, which is where we want to be playing in March, so it should give us a great amount of confidence and be a big boost for us knowing that we can we can do that,” Frese added.
Three things to know
1. Abby Meyers found her stroke early. The Princeton transfer has been solidifying her all-around game of late, averaging close to a double-double in her past three appearances. Both teams struggled to hit shots early, but Meyers had 11 early points to help catapult Maryland to a double-digit lead, which Ohio State never dug itself out of. She also finished with three takeaways, marking the fifth time she’s forced three turnovers in the past seven games.
2. The return of Jacy Sheldon didn’t affect Maryland. Ohio State senior guard Jacy Sheldon, who has blossomed into one of the best two-way guards in the conference, made her return to the lineup Sunday after a 15-game absence. Sheldon never impacted the game in a major way, finishing with five points on 2-of-8 shooting. Sheldon was held to just one steal, despite averaging five per game earlier this season. “We could have played a lot better tonight, could have a lot more energy,” she said.
3. A dominant half from Diamond Miller sealed the deal. The star guard was unstoppable in the second half, taking over in just about every way possible. She left Ohio State with no way to climb back, scoring 18 points to go along with four rebounds. With five minutes to go in the game, her 18 points equaled Ohio State’s entire second-half total.
“I was definitely pissed off. They were playing dirty. Not really dirty, I guess, because people call me a dirty player, but they were very aggressive towards me and I guess I just showed them what real aggression is,” Miller said.