No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball captured its seventh straight victory over a Big Ten opponent Thursday afternoon, dominating in the paint and capturing a 88-59 road win over Purdue.
“[Purdue] really makes you work on the defensive end of the floor, but I thought it was a really well-rounded game for a lot of players,” head coach Brenda Frese said.
The Terps dominated inside all evening and cruised to another double-digit win. Maryland sits atop the Big Ten standings and hasn’t lost since Jan. 25 to then-No. 17 Ohio State. The Terps have just two games remaining on their regular season schedule, with No. 21 Northwestern up next on Sunday, then a home game against Penn State for the regular season finale.
With the win over Purdue, Maryland improves to 14-1 within the Big Ten and 18-2 overall. The Terps have dropped just one game on the road that didn’t come at a neutral site, as their road record improves to 7-1.
Here are my three biggest takeaways from the win over Purdue.
Maryland’s forwards got the job done on the road.
Usually, it’s Maryland’s top-scoring dynamic duo of Diamond Miller and Ashley Owusu leading the charge on offense, which typically sets the tone on both ends for the entire Terrapin roster on any given night. However, it was the group of forwards for Maryland that propelled it to another victory this time around.
Five-star freshman Angel Reese, who had a surprise return from her foot injury in the last game against Iowa, had one of her best games of her first collegiate season. The No. 2 overall player in the Class of 2020 played 19 minutes and collected 17 points on 60% shooting with nine rebounds, three blocks, two steals and one assist.
“It feels really good,” Reese said after her performance. “I still have a lot of work to do, offensively and defensively, especially defensively, but I’m happy to be back with my team and contributing as much as I can and whatever I have to do to help the team win, I’m willing to do, so I’m just happy to be back.”
It’s a fast return to dominance for the freshman, and she’s just another weapon for Frese’s squad as the Big Ten tournament and March Madness creep closer and closer on the 2021 calendar.
Maryland forward Chloe Bibby had an oddly quiet day with just four points, but Faith Masonius and Mimi Collins stepped up big time and picked up the slack all over the stat sheet. Collins put in 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting for the Terps in just 18 minutes on the floor and chipped in with six rebounds and one assist.
“I just have great teammates, and it was just they were trying to stop all the guards,” Collins said. “Everything was open for me, Angel and Faith and everything was just working for us.”
Masonius, who typically plays around 20 minutes per game, logged 25 minutes this time around and managed 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists in what was a productive day for the sophomore.
“I thought they were terrific,” Frese said of her team’s forwards. “When you talk about the big picture of where we want to be to have that inside-outside combination and that depth is huge.”
On an evening when Owusu and Miller combined to shoot 12-for-28 from the floor, it was Maryland’s combination of bigs that did the dirty work on the inside, and it was enough to help the Terps capture their 18th win of the season.
The Terps’ rebounding advantage gave them an easy win.
Coming into this game, the Terps were already a strong rebounding team, with a plus-7.5 rebounding margin in their favor for the season. However, Maryland completely blew out that clip when it took down Purdue.
The Terps were hustling all over the floor off of missed shots that went flying off the rim, which propelled them to a 50-26 rebounding margin. Maryland had a team total of 22 offensive rebounds, which nearly eclipsed Purdue’s full game rebounding mark.
“I mean, look at the rebounding with 50 boards, 22 offensive, and a lot of the high-low looks we were able to get, you know, just being able to figure out how to win games in different ways with different styles,” Frese said.
After the final buzzer sounded, eight of 10 active players on the Terps’ roster had at least four rebounds. Reese and Masonius led the rebound charge for Maryland, combining for 17 boards on the evening.
The strong rebounding led to 54 total points in the paint for the Terps, and it was a big reason as to why Maryland was able to score above 85 points once again.
The Terps have already shown how skilled they are from the perimeter, with 42% team shooting from behind the arc heading into this game, but if they are able to exhibit dominance in the paint like they did against Purdue, it just adds another dangerous dimension to the nation’s top scoring offense.
Maryland’s defense is trending in the right direction as the postseason approaches.
For the fifth time in the last seven games, Maryland was able to hold its opponent to under 65 points through 40 minutes of basketball. Purdue managed just 59 points on 22-for-57 shooting (39%) on the evening in what was a struggle to solve Frese’s defensive scheme. The Boilermakers also hit on just five three-pointers on 16 attempts.
Maryland constantly forced Purdue into careless turnovers on the offensive end; the Boilermakers had a total of 18 turnovers on the night. The Terps were able to turn those giveaways into 23 points on the other end in what was another strong defensive night.
The Terps had five different players collect at least one steal, with Masonius leading the way with five. Collins and Reese each added two steals apiece.
After holding another opponent below 60 points, Maryland now allows just 72.2 points per game to its opponents on average; the Terps have a plus-21 scoring margin through 20 games.
The nation’s top scoring offense may get all of the recognition, but the Terps’ length and quick hands on defense can become an X-factor for when March comes around.
“For us it’s really just staying in this process,” Frese said. “A lot of great games left for us to play in the Big Ten and for us we’re just trying to get better every time we step out.”