As time wound down under the two minute mark in the fourth quarter, Maryland women’s basketball was clutching to a small four-point lead over No. 23. Michigan State.
The Terps, who had shot an excellent 53% from the field in the first half, had gone inexplicably cold in the fourth quarter. They had maintained a strong advantage throughout much of the contest, but as Nia Clouden hit a jumper to bring the score to just 83-81, the Terps were in trouble.
Chloe Bibby sunk a layup to extend Maryland’s lead to 85-81, and made free throws from Ashley Owusu and Katie Benzan sealed the Terps lead, allowing them to escape with a 93-87 victory.
“This group is really resilient and just has a really tough mindset,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “These are not easy wins.”
Neither Maryland nor Michigan State gained much ground on one another in the first quarter, in which the Terps and Spartans traded baskets and switched leads as neither team gained a lead larger than four points. Brenda Frese’s squad held the edge at the end of the period however, leading 22-19.
Redshirt sophomore forward Mimi Collins started off Thursday’s matchup hot, leading the Terps in scoring with nine points, already matching her scoring total in Monday's win against Indiana.
Maryland hit the ground running in the second, outscoring Michigan State, 8-1, in the first four minutes of the quarter. Hoping to stop Maryland’s momentum, Spartans head coach Suzy Merchant called a timeout, but alas, it could not slow down the Terps.
Out of the stoppage, back-to-back layups by Chloe Bibby and Katie Benzan followed by a three-pointer from Channise Lewis gave Maryland 35-20 lead– their largest of lead of the half– with roughly five minutes left in the second quarter. The Terps finished the first half shooting 53% from the field (16-30) and 57% from three (4-7).
Unfortunately for Brenda Frese, she lost another crucial piece of her already-depleted roster around 3:30 mark of Thursday’s contest, as Channise Lewis had to be helped off the court after hurting her right leg going up for a layup attempt. The junior guard would not return for the rest of the game.
Despite some more back and forth scoring to close out the first half, Maryland continued to hold a tight grip on their lead throughout the second quarter, outscoring the Spartans 26-14 to go into the locker room with a 48-33 lead at halftime.
After building a sizable 15-point lead, Maryland and their 53% shooting efficiency from the first half of Thursday’s contest against No. 23 Michigan State all but vanished.
After a rough second quarter, the Spartans came into the third with a vengeance. In the first four minutes of the half, Michigan State outscored Maryland 15-9 to force a timeout from Brenda Frese. Out of the timeout, Michigan State continued to chip away Maryland’s lead as Michigan State’s Nia Clouden hit a three to make it 57-50 to cap off a 7-0 run for the Spartans with just under six minutes left in the third quarter.
“[Michigan State] just came out in the second half and had a ton of energy and played really really well,” said Frese.
However Maryland went on to counter with a 7-0 run of their own in the next minute and a half, as a smooth no-look pass from Ashley Owusu to Faith Masonius for the layup sent Maryland’s bench into a frenzy. Owusu finished with team-highs in points (20) and rebounds (10), marking her third consecutive start with at least 20 points.
“I would say that having the game slow down has helped me a lot, playing basketball and reading the defenses,” Owusu said.
With about 30 seconds left in the third quarter, graduate transfer Alaysia Styles — the most recent addition to Maryland’s squad — checked in for the first time as a Terp, as she helped the Terps close out the quarter with 70-59 lead.
“She’s in great shape she’s long she’s athletic she can rebound and defend for us,” Frese said. “We’re definitely excited about trying to get her in this rotation and getting her comfortable.”
As the Terps continued to struggle from the field going into the final quarter of the game, Michigan State couldn't seem to miss the basket, as the Spartans shot 55.5% in the fourth, cutting Maryland’s lead down to just two late in the game.
What the Terps lacked in field goal percentage, they more than made up for in free throw accuracy, as timely makes from Benzan and Bibby within the final minute helped ice the 93-87 win for Brenda Frese and her team.
With the win, Maryland now improves to 8-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten. Their next game will be in College Park against Purdue on Sunday.
Three Things To Know
1. Channise Lewis’ injury might be a problem for the Terps moving forward. After going down with a leg injury towards the end of the second quarter, Lewis appeared to be in pain as the Maryland athletic staff checked it out on the sidelines. If Lewis misses times going forward, Brenda Frese — who has already been trying to win games with a depleted roster– is surely going to miss the veteran's presence on the court as the Terps continue through their rough Big Ten schedule.
Lewis has been forced to miss significant time due to injury in the past, suffering a torn ACL in October 2019 that caused her to miss all of last season.
2. Maryland’s defense showed out. The Terps forced 12 turnovers scoring 17 points off the takeaways. Maryland held the Spartans to just 33 points in the first half which is the lowest-scoring first half Michigan State has had this season. The Terps had 28 defensive rebounds, eight of those coming from Collins.
3. The Terps struggled from behind the arc. Maryland went 6-for-18 from the three-point line against the Spartans. Michigan State, a team that has struggled from behind the three outscored the Terps from there in this matchup making 39% of their shots. Maryland averages about 9.6 threes per game led by Benzan who makes 3.6 per game. The Spartans held Benzan to three this game as she shot 3-for-8 from the three.