Needing a spark in the second half of its season opener with just a 40-37 lead, Maryland women’s basketball turned to freshman forward Angel Reese. After a free throw and a steal, Reese forced another foul and sunk both foul shots, extending the Terps’ lead to six. Davidson dribbled the ball down the court looking to answer, but the ball ended up in Reese’s hands again, and she drove to the basket to extend the lead to 45-37, forcing a Davidson timeout.
The No. 12 Terps came out slow as they struggled to pull away from Davidson in the first half despite maintaining their lead. However, Maryland started off their second half strong with a 12 point run in under three minutes.
Reese, Katie Benzan, Chloe Bibby and Mimi Collins, all new members of Maryland’s roster, made up 21 of the 27 points the Terps scored in the third quarter. Benzan finished the game with 13 points, Bibby with nine and Collins finished with seven.
Miller and Reese led the team with 20 points each while sophomores Faith Masonius and Ashley Owusu each finished with 10.
“My shot was off, so if your shot is off you have to go to the basket and just play aggressive,” said Miller. “I was running the floor well, just trying to get my shots and help my teammates out as much as I could.”
Reese showed off her skills just 32 seconds into the game, blocking a shot and making a layup. She had four rebounds in the first quarter, while Miller led the team in scoring with seven points.
“My teammates gave me the confidence to just go out there and play my game,” said Reese. “It was a great feel for my first game running the court and just everything, the college environment is just great and I love it.”
Benzan and Bibby both started and found their footing rather quickly. With under two minutes to go in the first quarter, Channise Lewis effortlessly dribbled it down the court and passed to Benzan, who quickly got it off to Bibby for the layup, giving the Terps a 19-12 lead. They led 19-15 after the opening quarter.
“It definitely helps to have [Bibby and Benzan’s] veteran experience,” said head coach Brenda Frese. “They calmed us down and settled us in the first half when we had so many players in foul trouble.”
With less than five minutes to go in the first half, Maryland and Davidson were tied after Davidson went on 6-0 run in under 30 seconds. The Terps and Wildcats pretty much went shot-for-shot. Each time it appeared Maryland could pull away, Davidson answered back. Lewis snapped the run with a layup, but Davidson matched once again with a pair of free throws.
Owusu and Masonius got things moving again for the Terps. Owusu made back-to-back shots with an assist from Masonius followed by a jumper from Masonius. However, as the Terps tried to build their lead, Davidson’s Katie Turner cut the deficit to three with about a minute to go in the half.
The Terps went into the locker room at the end of the second quarter with the small lead of 40-37 as Davidson seeked to pull off the upset. Maryland also experienced some foul trouble in the first half, committing 15 personal fouls.
To start the second half, Reese built the momentum starting off a 10-0 run for Maryland. She picked up her third personal foul later in the period, but the Terps continued to pull away thanks in large part to Benzan and Bibby. Maryland led 67-53 after three quarters thanks to a defense that held Davidson to just two baskets in the final 4:29 of the third.
“We were a lot more aggressive the second half,” said Frese. “We settled in and played a lot more disciplined.”
In the fourth, Reese, Owusu and Masonius each received their fourth personal foul. However, the Terps were still able to hold onto their lead and Reese came back into the game with less than four minutes to go despite being in foul trouble.
Reese shot from the elbow and immediately had a defensive rebound she pushed down the floor for a layup she was fouled on. In about 30 seconds, Reese had five points to bring her point total up to 20 to tie Miller on the team high for the day. Maryland stretched its lead as high as 25 in the fourth, coming away with a 22-point win.
Maryland plays No. 24 Missouri State at 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday, then No. 14 Arkansas at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
Three Things to Know
1. Every person on the roster is a weapon. Going into the half, Diamond Miller and Faith Masonius lead the Terps with 10 points each, while Reese and Benzan led the offensive charge in the second half. Every player on the roster scored at least four points in the game except for Taisiya Kozlova, who still contributed defensively with two rebounds.
“There is a lot of fire power on this team,” said Frese. “Everybody can score and so we were able to take advantage of that.”
2. Maryland got into foul trouble early. Headed into the locker room, the Terps had 15 personal fouls with three attributed to sophomore guard Ashley Owusu. At the end of the first half, Miller, Reese, Benzan, Bibby and Lewis had two each. After a string of shots, Reese fouled again bringing her total up to three in the first three quarters of the game. Owusu, Reese and Masonius all ended the game with four fouls.
3. The Terps still have growing pains. Although the Terps finished strong, Maryland came out of the gate slow. Despite never giving up the lead, the Terps did allow Davidson to come dangerously close multiple times in the first half. This happens with new faces, however, and Maryland knows there is room to improve its three-point shooting and manage personal fouls.