No. 12 Maryland women’s basketball thwarted off another upset attempt by a ranked Big Ten team after defeating No. 23 Michigan State in a close 93-87 game in East Lansing, Michigan on Thursday night.
The Terps played efficient basketball for the majority of the first half, but faltered in the two final quarters, which prompted a comeback from the Spartans late.
However, Maryland pulled through once again with a six-point victory and has now taken down two ranked Big Ten teams in four days.
Maryland improves to a strong 8-1 record, without a loss since Nov. 28, 2020. The Terps will look to keep their impressive momentum going when they take on Purdue on Sunday at noon in College Park. Here are my three biggest takeaways from the win over Michigan State.
Maryland’s depth showed up when it mattered most
Sophomores Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller have provided the bulk of the scoring for the Terps over the last few games. However, the win over Michigan State brought out the best in Maryland’s depth.
Five of Maryland’s players reached double figures in points. Chloe Bibby and Owusu led the way for the Terps with 20 points apiece, while Mimi Collins, Katie Benzan and Miller all dropped at least 13 on the night.
Owusu also had 10 rebounds in the victory and now averages a staggering 18.8 points per game on the season to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game as well.
“Just being aware of the game and what’s going on and when I need to takeover,” Owusu said on how she’s been consistently being able to improve her game.
It wasn’t a great three-point shooting night for the Terps, but Benzan found the back of the twine three times on eight attempts from behind the arc.
In a game where Owusu and Miller weren't the most efficient players on the floor in terms of shooting, contributions from Maryland’s role players were critical. The dynamic backcourt duo combined for just 8-for-27 from the field.
The only blemish on Maryland’s depth for the night was the unexpected departure of Channise Lewis.
“Channise went down, kind of tweaked her knee a little bit, should be fine,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “But we wanted to be smart and cautious with that, especially with a quick turn around with Purdue.”
A strong showing in the second quarter was just enough to get the job done
After taking a three-point lead heading into the second quarter, the Terps turned up the heat on both ends of the floor to take a commanding 48-33 lead into half.
“I loved how we came out and we were ready to punch first,” Frese said. “I thought we had a ton of aggressive energy in the first half.”
Six different Terps got on the scoreboard in the second frame, with Bibby leading the way with eight points. As a team, Maryland shot 57.1% from the field and 2-of-3 from long range in the period. The Terps also went a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
On the defensive side of the ball, Maryland did a stellar job to extend its lead. Michigan State finished the second quarter shooting just 38.5% from the field with five made field goals. The Spartans managed just one three-pointer on four attempts.
Maryland went on to play a subpar second half, but the lead Maryland built in the first was seemingly enough to finish off Michigan State.
The Terps remain unscathed against tough competition
The Terps have now won seven straight games and made it through a very tough portion of their schedule.
During this winning streak, Maryland most recently defeated the likes of Penn State, Rutgers, No. 19 Indiana and now No. 23 Michigan State. Going undefeated during a stretch like that is no easy task.
“Anytime you can go on the road and get a win like this at Michigan State is huge,” Frese said Thursday night.
The Terps look ahead to somewhat of a lighter schedule in terms of competition. The next four games for Maryland are against Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin and then Iowa. Excluding Iowa, those teams are all either in the middle of the pack or in the basement of the conference.
Maryland’s next biggest challenge comes against No. 16 Ohio State, which will take place in Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 25.
This winning streak is critical for the team’s confidence moving forward and it seems as though the Terps’ offense is near unstoppable. All of the pieces are coming together for Maryland, and it will be very important for Frese and the Terps to take care of these next four games on their schedule.