Maryland women’s basketball put together its second straight victory on Sunday, defeating Illinois, 69-53.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
There were long stretches of sloppy play
Call it exceptional defense. Call it being cavalier with the ball. Either way, both teams grappled with issues on the offensive end.
In the first quarter alone, Illinois endured a stretch where it went nearly five minutes without a single field goal. Simultaneously, Maryland embarked on a 9-1 run.
But the Terps endured plenty of their own struggles.
Turnovers marred the opening minutes of the contest, as Maryland rushed — often too quickly — to find Allie Kubek and Jakia Brown-Turner in the post. The Terps committed six turnovers in the first frame.
“I wasn’t expecting to have the 19 turnovers and, you know, I thought we were kind of missing a lot of layups,” said head coach Brenda Frese. “I think for us the turnovers took [us] out of rhythm offensively.”
The only reason the Terps were able to scrape out of the first quarter with a five-point lead was Illinois’ poor shot-making ability. It went just 4-for-19 from the field in the period and 1-for-3 from 3-point range.
While Illinois continued its poor run of form throughout the contest, Maryland bettered its sloppy ways after the initial three quarters. The fourth frame saw a turnaround during which the Terps were able to pull away quickly, shooting 9-for-15 from the field and not committing a single turnover.
Maryland was phenomenal on the glass
The Terps’ typical weakness didn’t end up being a weakness against the Fighting Illini, and it’s probably the main reason as to why they took home the victory.
It’s not even that Illinois is a particularly bad rebounding team — it ranks seventh in the Big Ten in combined team rebounds per game (36.7) and fourth in combined opponent rebounds (33).
The Terps simply eviscerated the Fighting Illini in this facet of the contest.
In just the first half alone, Maryland out-rebounded them 26-16, allowing just six second-chance points and 14 points in the paint. And it was Frese’s lineup decisions that facilitated the onslaught on the boards.
Despite electing to bring Kubek off the bench with Faith Masonius starting, she sometimes ended up pairing the two in the paint. This created a near-impossible path for Illinois’ guards to slither through the interior, leading to its poor paint performance.
Shyanne Sellers led the Terps with 11 boards, while Kubek and Brown-Turner chipped in with 10 apiece. Even Bri McDaniel was active on the glass, bringing down seven rebounds.
By the end of the contest, it wasn’t a particularly fair fight. Maryland finished the game with a 47-33 combined rebounding advantage and a +12 defensive rebounding margin.
“You got to find different ways to win the game,” Frese said. “Wasn’t the prettiest but I thought our defense and our rebounding, which you can control anytime … [it] was big.”
The Terps’ bench stood out
With the plethora of season-ending injuries the Terps have suffered, the bench has been rightfully thin. Starters have had to consistently play well over 30 minutes per game, leaving some questions pertaining to the degree of fatigue for some of Maryland’s premier players.
In Sunday’s matinee matchup, however, bench production was far from a concern.
The key difference between these past two games and the entirety of the season has been switching Kubek from the starting lineup to the bench. In doing so, she has been able to play more freely, no longer needing to worry quite as much about getting into foul trouble.
Ultimately, the Terps racked up 28 bench points on the afternoon compared to Illinois’ eight, despite having just three players come off the bench. In fact, Lavender Briggs and Kubek had the two highest scoring totals for a Maryland player, accumulating 18 and 15 points, respectively. Briggs, in particular, has been impressive in showcasing her offensive skillset, acumen and versatility. She went 2-for-3 on 3-point attempts and repeatedly spaced the floor well on drives by Sellers and McDaniel.
“I thought Allie [Kubek], you know, came in and in the first half provided a lot of great things offensively, defensively, as well as rebounding,” Frese said. “So huge when we needed to have that from both her and Lav [Briggs] off the bench.”