Just around 10 seconds following the opening tip, sophomore guard Ashley Owusu had the ball on the left side of the arc. At the top toward the right of the basket, sophomore guard Diamond Miller was open.
As soon as the ball hit her hands, she faked it and went up for the three. Less than 10 seconds later, Miller hit her second shot of the day from behind the arc to spark a 24-9 run, which included the Terps making all seven of their first three-point attempts.
In this matchup between the top two scoring offenses in the country Tuesday, Maryland women’s basketball showed why it deserves the top spot, defeating Iowa, 111-93, with an absolutely electric offensive display.
“Our staff was just honestly stunned at halftime,” Frese said. “We didn’t tell the girls that, but I’ve never been a part of a game like that, to be able to just see. I can’t wait to go back and watch the game.”
The Terps made 15 of its 22 attempts from beyond the arc in the matchup, good for 68.3% and setting a new program record for the best three-point percentage on more than four attempts. The two teams combined for 32 three-pointers, which is just shy of the NCAA women’s basketball record of 36.
Maryland finished this matchup with four players in double-digit scoring. Senior guard Katie Benzan hit a career-high 29 points, Miller had 27 points, Owusu had 24 points and senior forward Chloe Bibby finished the game with 14 points. Owusu also set a career-high with 12 assists.
“I just read the defense, and today they played a zone which opened up the three-point line for all of us,” Benzan said. “The shots just went down and we play with such a great point guard in Ash, who finds the open person every single time.”
The Terps started off strong from the tip with Miller’s back-to-back threes, but, freshman guard Caitlin Clark did not keep her Iowa team scoreless for long as she hit back-to-back threes for her team.
Clark is the leading scorer in the Big Ten and second in the nation, averaging 26 points per game. With six minutes to go in the first quarter, Iowa had nine points, all from Clark, who was 3-for-3 from behind the arc.
“I love going against her as long as we get the win,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “I mean, I love watching her play. But yeah, she’s just a phenomenal player, she’s really talented to be able to watch.”
Maryland’s offense was amid a 16-3 run lasting over two and a half minutes, in which the defense held Iowa scoreless for two minutes.
Out of the timeout, the Terps brought the pressure to extend Iowa’s scoring drought, forcing three turnovers in just two and a half minutes. The Terps 19-3 run was snapped by a three from Iowa, but Maryland’s offense did not let up as Benzan hit another three.
As Benzan’s shot went in the bench exploded as freshman forward Angel Reese and assistant director of basketball performance Keith Pough jumped around, swung a towel and exchanged high fives.
With about three and a half minutes to go in the first quarter, Reese transitioned roles from motivator to player as she made a shocking entrance into the game after having foot surgery earlier this season that was expected to keep her out until the postseason. Her first points since December came in the form of a pair of free throws.
The Terps dominated the first quarter outscoring the Hawkeyes, 41-21, while shooting 68.2% from the floor. Maryland was 8-for-9 from behind the arc and the Terps’ eight three-pointers tie a program record for most scored in a single frame. The Terps scored 41 points with eight assists and zero turnovers.
Maryland started the second quarter strong defensively. After giving up two points, they held the Hawkeyes scoreless for over two minutes until Clark snapped the scoring drought with a three.
Iowa continued to push as Clark went for 17 points in the second quarter, she finished the first half with 29 points. Although Maryland maintained their strong lead, they were outscored by the Hawkeyes 30-27 in the second frame.
Ultimately, Maryland went into the locker room with the commanding 68-51 lead after the strong offensive performance. The Terps finished the first half shooting 66% from the field, 75% from behind the arc and 75% from the charity stripe.
Maryland’s 68 points in the first half were just one shy of the most points scored in a single half by a Big Ten team, but they set the record of most points scored in a single half of a conference game in Big Ten history.
To start the second half, Maryland kept its offensive momentum going. With four minutes to go in the third quarter, the Terps were outscoring Iowa 17-9 as they held Clark scoreless.
However, with a minute to go in the third quarter Iowa was on a 5-0 run. As the Maryland bench started chanting “DEFENSE,” Iowa sank its seventh consecutive point prompting a Maryland timeout.
Out of the break, Maryland found its offensive groove immediate as Reese got the ball to senior forward Alaysia Styles for the layup as the Terps maintained their lead in the third outscoring the Hawkeyes 22-19. The Terps held Clark, Iowa’s leading scorer, to just three points in the period.
In the first three quarters, Benzan and Owusu led the charge combining for 48 of Maryland’s 90 points, earning 26 and 22, respectively.
“I’m just finding my teammates when they’re open and also noticing who has the hot hand,” Owusu said. “...Katie, she was on today so just recognizing the defense on her when she’s open and also other teammates.”
In the fourth quarter, Iowa did not let up going on an 8-0 run that lasted over a minute forcing the Terps to call a timeout.
But out of the timeout, three and a half minutes into the fourth quarter, Benzan hit her ninth three-point shot of the game to break the program record she tied earlier this season.
Benzan’s three brought Maryland’s point total on the day to 99 bringing the team well above its average of 92.4 points per game that’s earned it the title of the No. 1 scoring offense in the country. And the scoring only continued from there en route to the dominant victory.
“We all are threats on the court, so it’s gonna be hard to defend us,” Benzan said. “But then again, we share the ball so well...and that’s just a testament to how we love each other and we just want to win no matter who scores the points.”
Three Things To Know
1. Angel Reese is back. After fracturing her right foot in the home opener against Towson, the No. 2 recruit in the country was not expected to return until the postseason. But, Tuesday afternoon she made her first appearance on the court since the injury and she picked up right where she left off. In the first half, Reese had six points and two rebounds in the eight minutes she was on the floor.
“I thought she was huge, I thought her energy was great,” Frese said. “It’s just to be able to continue to have that energy and depth and being able to send those waves.”
2. Katie Benzan was dominant from behind the arc. In the first half, Benzan tied the program record for most threes made in a single game for the second time this season. In the first half, she earned 24 points going 8-for-9 from behind the arc. To finish the game, Benzan had 26 points, went 9-for-10 from behind the arc.
With about six and a half minutes to go in the game, Benzan took a shot from the left side of the arc to sink her ninth three of the day to break the program record for most threes in a single game in program history. The basket brought her point total to a career-high 29 points.
3. Maryland capitalized on Iowa’s mistakes. Maryland’s offense was hot but their defense did not let up either. In the first half, Maryland forced Iowa to turn the ball over 10 times and scored 16 points off the takeaways. To finish the game, the Hawkeyes had 16 turnovers and Maryland scored 22 points off them.