No. 9 Maryland women’s basketball cruised to its fifth straight victory over a Big Ten opponent Saturday afternoon, taking down Minnesota, 94-62, in College Park.
The Terps dominated early and often over the Golden Gophers, which propelled them to another win in the Xfinity Center. Maryland officially sweeps the two-game regular season series over Minnesota, after winning this one and collecting a 17-point road win on Jan 14.
“Just really pleased, I thought it was another great 40 minutes of effort,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “Our energy and our intensity, for the most part, I really liked how we came out defensively. The stat that jumps out to me is we had only five turnovers this entire game.”
Maryland improves to a 12-1 record within the Big Ten and moves to 16-2 overall on the season. The Terps have yet to fall at home, now with a perfect 8-0 record in Xfinity Center.
Here are my three biggest takeaways from the win over Minnesota.
Defense continues to be a growing strong asset for Frese and the Terps
Even with the country’s best scoring offense, it’s still easy to overlook just how good Maryland has been on the defensive end in its past few games as we quickly approach the postseason.
Since its 88-86 loss to then-No. 17 Ohio State on the road back on Jan. 25, Maryland has won five straight games and has allowed over 70 points to an opponent just once over that span. The Terps are allowing a grand total of 58.6 points per game over the course of their current winning streak.
“It separates us into an elite level,” Frese said.
In the win against Minnesota, Maryland limited its opponent to just 62 points on 41% shooting from the field. The Terps held the Golden Gophers to just 5-for-19 from three-point range, good for 26%. Maryland forced Minnesota into 13 total turnovers and five different players on the Terps’ roster recorded a steal on the afternoon as well.
It’s going to be a very difficult task for any team in the postseason to take down the likes of a team that has the highest scoring output on offense and can lock down impressively on the defensive end at the same time.
Keep an eye out in the final four games of the regular season to see if the Terps are able to maintain their dual-threat advantage on the court over their opponents.
The efficiency of the offense didn’t skip a beat
After putting up 94 points on Minnesota on its home court, Maryland is still atop the nation in scoring with 92.4 points per game. The next closest college in the country in scoring is fellow Big Ten competitor Iowa, which averages 87.9 points per game.
The Terps’ win saw their two usual leading scorers, Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller, carry the load. Owusu dominated all afternoon and had a game-high 24 points on a crisp 7-for-12 shooting clip.
“I’m just staying confident and just poised,” Owusu said. “I’ll take an open shot when I have it but create for my teammates.”
She also chipped in with eight assists and six rebounds in 32 minutes on the floor.
“I thought Ashley just continues to run this team,” Frese said. “She’s the No. 1 scorer and assists leader for us with the No. 1 scoring team in the country when you talk about the plays that she’s making for our team.”
Miller, on the other hand, had her seventh game with 20+ points this season. She shot 50% from the field in this one and went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
“I think I’m just developing to be a really good player,” Miller said. “So, I’m going to keep continuing to grow.”
The sophomore has scored double-digit points in every game this season except one, which resulted in a loss for the Terps.
“I just can’t say enough with the two next to me, Diamond and Ashley. Diamond, we’ve been really working through just trying to improve her game on so many levels and just the ownership,” Frese said. “She’s by far the most improved player in the league with what she brought to the table defensively, getting on the glass, the assists that she’s making on top of her scoring.”
Katie Benzan also had another solid offense game for Maryland, putting in 17 points and shooting 3-for-7 from long range, while also recording five assists and three rebounds. Mimi Collins, Chloe Bibby and freshman Taisiya Kozlova combined for 24 points, though Collins left the floor early after getting hit in the face.
The Terps shot 54% from the field and 47% from deep as a team in the win. Maryland also connected on 19 of its 21 free throw attempts.
Overall, it was just another day for this potent Maryland offense, scoring 90+ points for the 13th time in 16 games. This offense continues to be on a tear heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
Maryland’s domination in College Park continues with another blowout win
For the eighth game this season, Maryland was able to pull out another win in Xfinity Center. And for the seventh game played in College Park, the Terps beat their opponent by at least 30 points. That’s a signifiant number of blowout games on home court, and it’s being done without any bit of help from the absent fans as well.
Maryland’s closest game at home came against then-No. 18 Indiana (now No. 14), which it won by just four points back on Jan. 4. Besides that game, the average margin of victory at the Xfinity Center for the Terps has been nearly 37 points per game.
Maryland has taken down three teams at home by over 40 points, with one of those lopsided wins coming against a strong Michigan State team, which currently stands No. 23 in the NET with a conference record of 6-6 and an overall record of 11-6,
The Terps have been astonishingly efficient on their home court this season and have put up at least 90 points on the offensive end in five of those home games as well.
Maryland has two games remaining at Xfinity Center to close out the regular season, starting with Iowa in its next game on Tuesday afternoon. Then, after two road games against Purdue and No. 21 Northwestern, the Terps have a chance to build on their late-season momentum when they take on Penn State in College Park to finish out their last contest before the postseason arrives.