With about four minutes to go in the first quarter, Michigan State’s Nia Clouden was taking the ball down the court, looking to shorten Maryland’s eight-point advantage. But the Terrapin defense was determined to not let that happen.
Sophomore forward Faith Masonius brought the pressure from the second the ball was inbounded, and right before the Spartan crossed midcourt, senior forward Alaysia Styles joined in on the effort, swiping away the ball away with ease. Styles dribbled it down to the left side of the basket to sink a layup in the midst of a dominant 17-0 run for the Terps.
After a tough loss to No. 14 Ohio State, the team’s first in 24 Big Ten games, Maryland women’s basketball was set on turning things around. Head coach Brenda Frese was frustrated by the team’s slow start, lack of energy and defensive effort in that defeat, and the Terps certainly responded.
“We lost, so I think teams may underestimate us or think we fell off, but I think today was like a statement win that we’re still one of the best teams in the conference and we’re just here to stay,” sophomore guard Ashley Owusu said.
Maryland had struggled to put together a full 40-minute performance but in this matchup, the Terps were all over the court, outdoing Michigan State the whole way in a dominant 92-52 victory.
Michigan State struck first with a three-point shot to spark a 5-0 run, but that was the last time the Spartans would see the bucket for a while.
About two and a half minutes into the first quarter, senior guard Katie Benzan answered with a successful shot from behind the arc to spark a 21-4 run for the Terps that lasted over five and a half minutes. The run included a trio of three-point baskets, three layups and a pair of free throws.
But the offense wasn’t the Terps’ main strength in the first quarter. Maryland kept Michigan state scoreless for about four minutes while forcing five turnovers and capitalizing on them for nine points.
“Michigan State really shares the basketball and just to send them to 24 turnovers with 10 assists, and then our assist to turnover ratio,” Frese said. “I thought there was just so many great areas.”
With a minute to go in the first quarter, Michigan State had made just one of its last seven field goals, before hitting back-to-back three-point shots.
Maryland held the Spartans to 15 points in the first quarter, the lowest-scoring first 10 minutes Michigan State has had all season. Building off that, the Terps started the second quarter fired up. First, a layup from sophomore guard Ashley Owusu, then a steal from sophomore guard Diamond Miller, who passed it out to Benzan behind the arc to extend Maryland’s advantage to 37-16.
Halfway through the second quarter, both teams were facing scoring droughts that lasted about three minutes until Miller got the ball behind the arc to spark another run for the Terps.
“It was no secret that I didn’t play the best I could play at Ohio State, but you got to move on,” Miller said. “We had a fresh start today and I think we showed that we’re capable of being one of the top teams in the country.”
Maryland’s defense continued to shine as it forced six turnovers, scoring eight points on those takeaways. In the last two and a half minutes of the half, Maryland held Michigan State to zero field goals as it continued to drive the score up. The Terps outscored the Spartans 23-15 in the second quarter to give them the comfortable 50-30 lead headed into halftime.
In the first twenty minutes of play, the Terps shot 51% from the field, 47% from behind the arc and were 5-for-5 from the charity stripe. Maryland made double the field goals Michigan State made in the first half, sinking 18 successful shots compared to the Spartans’ nine.
Maryland didn’t let off the gas after the break. After a missed layup from Michigan State, Collins grabbed the rebound and passed it to Benzan. As Benzan faked the pass to Owusu, she passed it back to Collins instead who got it over the head of the defender to Owusu for the layup.
“We just talked about [at halftime] not letting up,” Owusu said. “We had good momentum offensively and defensively on them in the first half, so just come in on the second half with the same mentality and same energy.”
Quickly after they showcased their offense, their defense got to work. Another steal by Bibby led to a jumper from Collins.
With about six minutes to go in the third quarter, Michigan State had the ball at half court looking to move toward the basket. Owusu and Bibby brought the pressure forcing yet another turnover as Benzan grabbed the loose ball. As quick as she gained possession of it, she passed it over the head of the defender to Owusu in the paint who drove to the basket and sank the reverse layup.
By the end of the third quarter, Maryland had surpassed their season-high points scored off turnovers. Earlier this season against Penn State and Minnesota, the Terps scored 24 points off takeaways in 40 minutes. Thursday evening against Michigan State, Maryland scored 28 points off turnovers in 30 minutes of play. The team ended with 30 off of 24 forced turnovers, both season highs.
Even with a huge lead, Maryland’s defense finished the game as strong as it started it forcing seven turnovers in the last eight and a half minutes and holding Michigan State to just one of their last nine field goals.
Four players—Miller, Owusu, Bibby and Masonius— finished the game with double-digit scoring performances. Owusu and Miller led the way with 20 points each while Bibby and Masonius scored 13 each.
“That’s what championship teams are made of. Every single player that came in made a difference. There was no drop-off,” Frese said. “You can continue to keep playing hard when you can send those waves and continue to have that consistent energy.”
Three Things To Know
1. The Terps spread out their offense, especially behind the arc. In the first half alone, Maryland had nine successful three-point shots that six different players contributed to including freshman guard Taisiya Kozlova and sophomore forward Faith Masonius from off the bench. To finish the game eight of nine active players on Head Coach Brenda Frese’s roster made a bucket. The bench contributed to 21 points.
“Tai, I thought she gave us phenomenal minutes,” Frese said. “We’ve got to get Zoe in that rotation so I thought our starters did a phenomenal job dominating from the tip and then being able to spread that amongst the entire team.”
2. Maryland was dominant at forcing turnovers and capitalizing off them. To finish the first half, Maryland forced 12 turnovers. This ties the season-high performance for turnovers forced in a single half that they had on the road at Penn State. In that matchup, the Terps scored 16 points off them and on Thursday evening against the Spartans, Maryland scored 17 points off the 12 takeaways. In the second half, the Terps forced 12 turnovers and scored 13 points off them. Maryland’s 24 forced turnovers is a season-high performance for the Terps. The previous season-high was against Rutgers when Maryland forced 21.
3. The Terps were all over the boards. Last game against Ohio State, Maryland was outrebounded 44-38 while Collins grabbed zero. However, in this matchup, the tides turned in Maryland’s favor as they pulled in 39 out-rebounding the Spartans by 11. Collins’ rebounding performance improved as well as she grabbed nine, six of those coming on the defensive end. Miller led the team with ten boards including eight defensive ones.
“Coach has been challenging me to push past my limits and they see that I’m capable of doing more than just offense,” Miller said. “So, I just have been trying to work on that and stay on my feet and not standing.”