Maryland women’s basketball has been in search for a true point guard who can dominate in all facets of the game, and freshman Ashley Owusu has fit the bill so far for the team.
Through just four career games, Owusu is averaging 15.3 points, 5.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds, while only turning the ball over a total five times.
“She’s super talented,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said after Owusu finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists against then-No. 8 South Carolina. “It’s exciting to think of her coming in at the point and the plays that she can make.”
Against Delaware, Owusu showed yet another flash of the talent she possess, tipping a rebound to herself, hitting a spin move as she dribbled up the floor and finishing with a no-look assist to fellow freshman Diamond Miller for the lay-in.
“She’s given us a big spark point guard wise,” sophomore Shakira Austin said. “Being able to have somebody who can attack and set up a play — so our transition is great with her.”
With the Terps focusing on quickly turning rebounds and turnovers into points this season, transition play is key. And a guard like Owusu — who can finish plays and/or pass while running the floor — is a critical piece to the puzzle.
“She just reads the defense so well,” Austin said. “She’s extremely confident. She doesn’t let anybody speed her up. She reads — not only the first level defense — the second level defense. Eventually we’ll get her to be able to find that kick or find the outlet, but right now her getting to the rim alone is great.”
That ability to get to the rim is often rare in point guards, but in just the third game of her career, Owusu used that skill to cap off a 29-8 Maryland run and help the Terps escape from James Madison with a 70-68 road victory.
“She’s very fearless,” senior Kaila Charles said. “I love the fact that she likes to make big plays when the clock is winding down and when we need her to. I just like her mentality and how every game she’s not afraid to take the big shot. So we need that.”
While it’s often hard for young players to step in and lead, Owusu has been able to dig deep and find confidence in the support of her teammates.
The freshman has been able to lend her trust in cemented players such as seniors Stephanie Jones and Charles, while also bouncing off of sophomores Taylor Mikesell and Austin — who also had to play big minutes as freshmen just last season.
“I think just having confidence in my game and in my teammates [is key],” Owusu said. “Knowing that if I missed [the game-winning layup against James Madison], they would have had my back with the rebound and put it back.”
Looking forward, Maryland will have to continue to lean on Owusu, as freshman guard Zoe Young is out for the season after tearing her ACL in the preseason and junior guard Channise Lewis underwent surgery on a torn left meniscus last week.
So far, with the lack of depth behind her at the point guard position, Owusu has shouldered a team-leading 30.8 minutes per game.
The Terps will hope that Owusu continues her excellent run of play — while also keeping an eye on her minutes — as they host George Washington and Quinnipiac over the next week, before heading to the Dayton Beach Invitational over Thanksgiving weekend.
“She’s, for us, a different kind of point guard, being able to go downhill,” Frese said. “So as she gets comfortable making those plays for us — making those reads out of her ability to attack — we’re just going to continue to keep growing as a team.”