Maryland women’s basketball (10-1) remains undefeated on the road after taking down the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a 90-73 victory Thursday night.
The Terps shot the ball well from deep and had contributions all around the lineup. The win keeps Maryland undefeated in 2021 and pushes the team’s win streak to nine games.
Maryland, after moving up three spots to No. 9 this week in the AP Top 25 Poll, now has a formidable 6-0 record in Big Ten play. The last loss the Terps surrendered was all the way back on Nov. 28.
Head coach Brenda Frese’s squad will now look to keep its high-flying offense rolling when it takes on Wisconsin on Sunday. Here are my three biggest takeaways from the win over Minnesota.
Chloe Bibby and Katie Benzan provided key scoring
The usual suspects for Maryland did their job for the most part, with Diamond Miller and Ashley Owusu combining for 34 points.
However, it was the duo of Chloe Bibby and Katie Benzan that came up when the Terps needed it most.
Bibby, who came into the game averaging around 14 points per game, helped bring Maryland back up to speed early in the first quarter after it fell behind 13-10. The senior was red hot in the opening frame, shooting 3-for-4 from the field with 10 points in her first 10 minutes on the floor.
At halftime, the Warracknabeal, Australia, native had 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting and five rebounds, and she played every single minute of the half as well. Bibby continued to tear up the court in the second half, chipping in another seven points on the night. She finished with 22 points on 53.8% shooting, along with nine rebounds and three assists.
Benzan, on the other hand, started off fairly cold in the shooting game. She did hit two threes in the opening quarter, but finished the period just 2-of-6 from the field. However, as the game progressed, the senior only improved.
The guard finished with an astounding 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Every single shot that Benzan attempted was from three-point range.
Overall, the duo combined for 42 points on the night in what was an efficient performance from the veterans. With an already talented offensive duo in Miller and Owusu, having Bibby and Benzan firing all on cylinders turns the Maryland offense into even more of a powerhouse.
A strong third quarter powered the Terps to victory
Heading into halftime, Maryland led Minnesota by just seven points in what was a much closer game than most expected at that point.
However, the third frame helped the Terps extend their lead to the point where a Minnesota comeback in the fourth wasn’t reasonably in the cards.
“[Frese] definitely got onto us but that’s what we need,” Bibby said on the halftime break. “I mean we’re a young team we’re still learning, and so it was great she held us accountable. And I think it was good, the way that we were able to react and come out of that.”
The Terps outscored the Golden Gophers, 26-14, in the third quarter alone, which brought the Maryland lead up to 19.
As a team, Maryland shot 50% from three and Miller managed 10 points in the quarter. However, what was even more impressive was the defensive effort Maryland displayed coming out of the locker room.
The Terps allowed just four field goals from the Golden Gophers, limiting Minnesota to just a 28.6% shooting clip in the third frame. Maryland also forced Minnesota into five turnovers in the quarter.
It was a brilliant start to the half and it was exactly what Frese and Maryland needed to push themselves ahead late in the game. Maryland never relented after that strong quarter and finished the game with a 17-point margin of victory.
“Love our response out of the locker room,” Frese said. [I] thought the third quarter obviously was Maryland basketball, how we know how to play, and terrific response. But for us, we want to continue to play four quarters...disappointed that I think we can play a lot better.”
The Terps’ positive turnover margin provided an offensive boost
After dismantling Minnesota, Maryland now averages 93.7 points per game. The Terps’ offense is usually the first thing that people think about when analyzing this talented roster.
However, Maryland’s offense is powered through the team’s effort and tenacity on the defensive end. The Terps constantly surround the ball carrier and are very good at contesting shots as of late. It’s been a key to their success, especially on the road against Big Ten opponents.
As a team, Maryland forced Minnesota into seven first half turnovers, while the Terps only had two. Then in the second half, the Terps were able to force even more turnovers on the defensive end which led to offensive success.
“We took accountability and we decided to show up with our effort and intensity,” Frese said of Maryland’s second half defensive performance.
Overall, Minnesota finished with 16 team turnovers, while Maryland compiled just eight. Even more telling, the Terps scored 24 points off those turnovers.
Four different Terps had at least one steal, and Miller, Benzan and Bibby each had two steals apiece.
The Terps scored 90+ points for the eighth time this season and a big factor in that consistent success is the defensive effort, which they showed once again against Minnesota.