With less than six minutes to go, Maryland women’s basketball was locked at 68 with Nebraska. Head coach Brenda Frese’s squad had never been in such a tight matchup down the stretch in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals, leaving cause for concern.
Cornhusker forward Isabelle Bourne attempted a shot from deep to take the lead, but the ball bounced off the rim and Terrapin guard Diamond Miller jumped up to pull in the defensive rebound.
After dribbling it down the court, she slowed the game down passing it to fellow guard Ashley Owusu at the top of the arc. Owusu took one step, faked out her defender and sank the long jumper to steal the lead and spark an 8-0 run for the Terps that lasted over two and a half minutes.
Owusu’s jumper shifted the momentum in Maryland’s favor late in the game as she led the Terps to an 83-73 victory over the Cornhuskers.
“You’re not going to continue to have 20 or 30 points blowouts at the end of your season,” Frese said. “We understand everyone’s playing to...move on, so I loved our response.”
Maryland got on the scoreboard first, but Nebraska continued to tally points and slow the team’s fast-paced offense, showing early on that this one would be a battle.
However, with five minutes left in the first quarter, the Terps forced the Cornhuskers to miss their last seven shots from the field, causing a scoring drought lasting over two and a half minutes.
But shortly after, Maryland went cold itself. The team didn’t make a field goal for over four and a half minutes until forward Chloe Bibby hit a jumper to spark a 7-0 run for the Terps that lasted over two and a half minutes.
“I’ve been in this position a couple of times, whereas a lot of these girls, you know, they have only been to one tournament, or this is their first time,” Bibby said. “So, I think [I’m] just bringing that leadership onto the court and kind of just staying calm when we get a little bit frazzled and keeping everyone’s head cool.”
Maryland’s offense is packed with offensive weapons, with all six players averaging at least 10 points on the season. Collins averages 10.4 points per game against Big Ten teams, but in this debut Big Ten tournament performance, she hit 11 points less than a minute into the second quarter.
After a short scoring drought, Nebraska kept it close, making all four of its last four field goals, but after Bibby hit her third three-point shot of the day, the Cornhuskers called a timeout. Out of the break, Nebraska’s Scoggin hit her third three of the first half, but as the Cornhuskers were looking to score again, Reese stole the ball, dribbled it down the court and drew the foul.
However, as the shot clock wound down with about a minute to go in the first half, Nebraska’s Sam Haiby sank a huge three from half court to close Maryland’s lead even more.
To finish the first half, the Cornhuskers hit six of their last eight field goals and kept it close with Maryland as the Terps headed into the locker room with the 38-34 lead.
“We fixed a lot of things at halftime,” Frese said. “We were able to take away the three, we stepped up and made some really clutch free throws at the end and really unselfishly played.”
With Maryland down 64-62 and 7:32 left in the third quarter, senior guard Katie Benzan did what she does best and sank a shot from behind the arc. The two teams continued to trade baskets as neither could pull away.
With a minute and a half to go in the third, Maryland had just a one-point lead but Owusu’s pair of shots from the charity stripe and a layup from freshman forward Angel Reese gave the Terps a little bit of breathing room.
Terps headed into the last frame of the game up just three points, 57-54.
To start the fourth quarter, Nebraska hit back-to-back threes to tie the game then steal the lead for the first time since there were eight minutes and 34 seconds in the first quarter.
However, the game continued to stay tight as the teams went basket for basket.
The Terps have only lost two games in the Big Ten Tournament, both times those losses came in the finals.
“I’m just playing hard and the mindset of not wanting to go home....whether [that’s] scoring or getting an assist or getting a rebound,” Owusu said. “So just coming in on the fourth quarter really focused and locking in on defense.”
With less than six minutes to go, the game was all tied up and as Nebraska missed a shot to take the lead, Miller grabbed the rebound and got it to Owusu who sank the long jumper to take the lead and spark the 8-0 run for the Terps.
With three and a half minutes to go in the game, Maryland hit four of their last field goals while Nebraska was experiencing a three-minute scoring drought. Although they snapped the cold streak with free throws, the Cornhuskers did not score a field goal for the last six and a half minutes of the game.
“I like this tournament. You know, who doesn’t like to you know be under the spotlight and come out and have fun with their team,” Owusu said.
Three Things To Know
1. Mimi Collins and Chloe Bibby played a tremendous role on the court. To finish the first half, Collins had 13 points. She was 6-for-6 from the field and hit her one attempted shot from deep. On top of that, the redshirt sophomore forward had two rebounds, two assists and a steal in the 14 minutes she was on the court.
Bibby also made an impact all over the court. She co-led the team at the half with 13 points, two boards and one assist. Bibby shot 5-for-6 from the field and hit three of her four attempted shots from deep. The senior forward also had one steal in her first 18 minutes on the court.
2. It was a battle on the glass. In the first half, Owusu and Masonius led the charge on the glass pulling in three rebounds each of the Terps’ 27 boards. However, Nebraska had the edge in the first 20 minutes outrebounding the Terps by seven and pulling in 11 offensive rebounds when Maryland grabbed just eight. To finish the game, Nebraska outrebounded Maryland, 39-32, with the Terps able to battle evenly on the boards in the second frame.
3. Terps spread out the scoring. In the first quarter, the Terps had six assists on eight baskets. To finish the first half, Maryland had 11 assists on 15 buckets. Owusu leads the team in assists averaging 5.8 on the game and against Nebraska, the sophomore guard had five in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Four terps finished the game with 15 or more points— Bibby, Owusu, Miller and Collins. Owusu led the way with 22 points followed by Bibby and Miller who tallied 18 each. Collins finished the game with 17 points.
Owusu finished the game just one rebound and two assists shy of a triple-double.
“I’m staying true to myself and not letting the other teams beat me up or run the game, you know, change my game,” Owusu said. “So, [I’m] just playing my game. In general, I’m playing Maryland basketball.”