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No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball vs. Purdue preview (part two)

The Terps take a six-game winning streak to West Lafayette, Indiana, after dropping 111 points on Iowa on Tuesday.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

No. 8 Maryland women's basketball will travel to West Lafayette, Indiana to face Purdue Thursday evening.

Since the loss to then-No. 14 Ohio State, Maryland has been on a six-game win streak. In the five games since the loss, the Terps have tallied an average of 96.5 points per game and Maryland has the No. 1 scoring offense in the country, averaging 93.4 points per game.

Through Feb. 23, The Terps are also second in assist/turnover ratio (1.60), fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.405), fifth in free throw percentage (.805), sixth in field goal percentage (.484), seventh in assists (19.9) and eighth in scoring margin (+20.7).

Maryland has four players averaging 15 points or more in conference games. Sophomore guard Ashley Owusu leads the way, averaging 20.9 points per game. Sophomore guard Diamond Miller averages 17.8 and senior guard Katie Benzan and senior forward Chloe Bibby average 15.2 and 15.1 points per game, respectively.

“You don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself because you know if you pass the ball to someone, they’re going to hit it,” Miller said.

Maryland also averages 20.2 assists per game, led Owusu with 6.6 per game.

The Terps will look to keep their electric offense going when they face Purdue for the second time this season in search of the series sweep.

The game is set to tip-off at 6 p.m. and will air on BTN Plus.

What happened last time

On Jan. 10, the Boilermakers traveled to College Park after having a game on Jan. 7 postponed.

Led by its stifling defensive effort, Maryland secured the win, 83-46, and remained undefeated in conference play.

Going into that matchup, Purdue was averaging 72.5 points per game, but Maryland denied its opponent the entire game, holding the Boilermakers to no more than 16 points per quarter. In the first frame of the game, the Terps held the Boilermakers to 13% from the field, and although Maryland’s offensive was uncharacteristically slow in the first, the second quarter things picked up quickly.

After going on multiple offensive runs in the second quarter and carrying that momentum with them into the third quarter, where Maryland went on 17-2 run, the Terps were able to pull away and seal the victory.

Four players— Owusu, Miller, Bibby and Benzan— finished the game in double-digit scoring. Owusu led the way with 19 points, followed by Miller, who finished the night with 16. Bibby and Benzan had 11 each. Owusu also had nine assists and Faith Masonius had 10 rebounds.

Purdue held Benzan scoreless in the 16 minutes she was on the court first half, but in the second, the Harvard grad transfer was far from quiet as all her 11 points came there.

What’s happened since

Maryland has played nine conference games since, while Purdue has played 10.

The Terps have gone 8-1 since facing the Boilermakers and are currently on a six-game win streak. After coming out slow from the tip against Ohio State in the loss, Maryland has turned things around and continues to pick up the pace.

The Terps are now the top scoring offense in the country, and the matchup with Iowa on Feb. 23 proved that. Iowa has the No. 2 scoring offense in the country and Maryland defeated the Hawkeyes, 111-93.

The Terps pulled away in the first quarter, making it near impossible for Hawkeyes to catch up, showing that they rightfully deserve the title of the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation.

In the six games since Maryland fell to Ohio State, it has scored over 100 points twice, against Illinois and Iowa, and scored less than 90 just once in a dominant 84-48 win over Wisconsin.

“Really love where our team is at right now. I mean they’re gelling, peaking at the right time,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “Obviously still extremely humbled and I think as a group we know we still have a lot of great basketball and a lot of tough basketball.”

Against Iowa, freshman forward Angel Reese also saw her first minutes on the court after injuring herself back on Dec. 3 in the home opener against Towson. With Reese back in the lineup, the Terps now have 10 active players on the roster.

Purdue, on the other hand, is trending in the opposite direction. Since the last matchup against Maryland, Purdue is 1-9. Its sole victory in the last 10 games came against Wisconsin and it was a one-point 56-55 win.

When Purdue played Maryland the first time, its scoring average was 72.5 points per game but since it has dropped significantly to 66.5 points per game.

Three things to watch

1. How much time will Angel Reese see on the floor? Reese saw her first 12 minutes on the court for the first time since Dec. 3 despite not being expected to return until the postseason. The No. 2 recruit in the country injured her right foot and had to get surgery a few days after the game. Ten and half weeks later, Reese was back in action against Iowa, tallying eight points, three boards, one assist and one block in just 11 minutes. Before the injury, in the three games Reese started in, she averaged 17.0 points, 8.7 boards and 2.0 blocks per game.

“I was going hard with everything I was doing, even through the tough days,” Reese said. “But I’m really happy to be back with the team, and we were doing really well before I was here and now we can do even better”

2. Can the Terps keep up their high-scoring tendencies? The theme of the season for this Maryland team has been offensive firepower. On the road against conference opponents, Maryland is averaging 89.4 points per game. Purdue’s opponents average 72.6 points per game. The Terps have only scored below that average once, and it was the second game of the season when they fell to No. 23 Missouri State at the Gulf Coast Showcase. Since then, the Terps have scored no less than 83 points. With so many offensive weapons, it is difficult for opponents to shut down all the hot hands on Maryland.

3. What will the defensive performance look like this time around? The last time these two teams faced each other, Maryland put together a complete 40-minute performance on defense. The Terps forced 17 turnovers and scored 22 points off of the Boilermakers’ mistakes. Maryland held Purdue to shoot just 13-for-54 from the field and 6-for-24 from behind the arc.

Going into this game, Purdue averages 17 turnovers per game, and on the other side of the court, Maryland averages 19.7 points off such mistakes.

“We’re a different team [than the last game against Purdue] on both ends of the floor defensively,” Frese said. “As well as we weren’t hitting as many shots as we are offensively, but I expect the same effort and intensity.”