Maryland women’s basketball came away with two victories in its first three games of the 2020-21 season at the Gulf Coast Showcase #BeachBubble down in Estero, Florida.
The most recent win came Sunday evening as the Terps ousted the No. 14 Arkansas Razorbacks in historic fashion, dominating all the way to the end in a 115-96 win.
The latest victory rounded out a pretty successful weekend for the Terps, who will go on to play their next matchup against Towson on Dec. 3 in College Park.
Here are my three biggest takeaways from Maryland’s first three performances of the season.
Depth scoring won’t be an issue for the offense
In all three games this weekend, Maryland had at least four players reach double figures in scoring. That kind of offensive production is hard to come by in collegiate competition.
Katie Benzan, Ashley Owusu, Chloe Bibby, Angel Reese and Diamond Miller all provided the bulk of the scoring for the Terps. Benzan and Reese were revelations for Maryland’s offense this weekend, with Benzan earning the MVP award for the tournament and Reese collecting All-Tournament Team honors.
“It’s critical to our success,” head coach Brenda Frese said of the veteran experience from players like Benzan on her roster. “Just having that calming influence by your veteran players is huge.”
Overall, the Terps shot near 49 percent from the field and averaged 93.7 points per game. In last season’s 28-4 campaign, Maryland shot around 47 percent from the field and averaged 82.8 points per game.
If the first three games were any indication of what Maryland has in store for the rest of the season, it means that the Terps will have little trouble with their efficiency on offense,
Maryland has a very talented team that can score consistently from just about anywhere on the court. And, if the Terps are able to use their scoring depth to their advantage, it could lead to an offense that can constantly cause nightmares for future opponents and their defenses.
Angel Reese is the real deal
Coming in as the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2020 and the highest-ranked incoming Terrapin recruit in program history is one heavy burden of expectations to carry into one’s inaugural collegiate season.
However, Reese looked right at home playing under Frese in her first few games as a Terp.
She racked up the points this weekend, scoring 20, 15 and 16, respectively, through the three games. Reese only attempted 32 shots over that same span and sunk in 18 of them. She also chipped in on the free throw line, going 15-for-22 from the charity stripe.
“I just played confident, I didn’t know what was gonna happen,” Reese said after her first college game in the win against Davidson. “I wasn’t really nervous, but my teammates gave me the confidence to just come out there and just play my game.”
Not only did Reese shoot a sparkling 56.3 percent from the field over the course of the weekend, but the 6’3 freshman impressed with her rebounding game as well. Reese had no less than eight rebounds in each of the games, and she had at least four offensive rebounds in every contest on top of that.
It’s safe to say that Reese is quite the offensive threat, but even more, she chipped in with six blocks and four steals on the defensive end.
The former McDonald’s All-American was very noticeable every time she stepped onto the court and it’s clear that she will be an integral piece for the Terps this season.
Maryland’s new-look roster is already breaking records
With a roster that consists of many new faces, it would’ve been wise to assume that it would take some time for Maryland to gel on the court chemistry-wise.
After a 81-72 loss to No. 24 Missouri State on Saturday, it seemed as though Maryland would need more games to find its rhythm. However, Sunday’s win against No. 14 Arkansas erased those doubts.
The Terps bounced back in a huge way with the 19-point victory, scoring the most points ever against a ranked opponent in program history. That is no small feat in the slightest.
“I thought it was obviously a terrific response by our team today,” Frese said after the win. “I thought they trusted the system today.”
Benzan led the scoring for the Terps in the historic win, totaling a game-high 28 points on the evening. She hit eight three-pointers, tying a Maryland record.
“I didn’t even know that that was the record,” Benzan said. “But, honestly I was just more focused on winning and doing whatever it took to help my team win tonight.”
Maryland’s 115 points were also the most points against a Power Five opponent since beating Wake Forest, 117-53 on January 23, 1980.
The Terps needed this rebound win in a big way against one of the top opponents in the nation, and fans should expect more dominant offensive performances like this throughout the season with so many weapons on the roster.
Maryland will certainly ride this momentum into early December for its next slate of games that are set to take place in College Park.
“I think it speaks volumes,” Frese said of the historic win. “As poorly as we played yesterday, to be able to see the response when we really buy in, you know, special things are in store for us.”