Maryland women’s basketball won the Big Ten tournament title for the fifth time in the last seven seasons after taking down Iowa, 104-84, in Indianapolis Saturday afternoon.
The Terps went 3-0 in the Big Ten tournament, taking down the likes of Nebraska, Northwestern and Iowa. Maryland won every single game in the tournament by double-digits.
“I thought they were just dialed in from start to finish,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “And obviously, I think we’re a really hard scout when you talk about all the weapons that we have on the offensive end. But you really see how this team has grown into being able to play both ends of the floor, their defense, their rebounding — we’re peaking at the right time.”
Maryland improves to a 24-2 overall record and has won 13 straight games, all of which by double digits, as Monday’s selection show approaches.
Maryland also won the Big Ten tournament last season before March Madness was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sophomore guard Ashley Owusu was named the Most Outstanding Player of that tournament in a breakout performance.
“It feels special, it felt special last year and it feels special this year,” Owusu said. “To be able to come in with basically a whole new team... just being able to lead our team to another Big Ten title was special.”
Sophomore guard Diamond Miller was awarded the Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player achievement. She averaged 15.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists over three games. She recorded five steals and five blocks over the course of the tournament as well.
Here are my three biggest takeaways from Maryland’s fifth Big Ten tournament title run.
Maryland’s starting forwards get the job done
Maryland’s dynamic duo of guards got the accolades with Miller getting the MOP award and both Miller and Owusu being named to the 2021 Big Ten Tournament All-Tournament Team. However, if you look at the underlying statistics, the Terps’ forwards had very consistent performances en route to the Big Ten title.
Senior forward Chloe Bibby provided her veteran experience when Maryland needed it most. In the quarterfinals, Bibby scored 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting, while also adding three rebounds, two assists and two steals as well. She only scored nine points against Northwestern in the next round, but came alive for the Terps in the finals. Bibby scored a team-high 21 points on 69% shooting against Iowa and her inside-outside game was phenomenal.
Redshirt sophomore forward Mimi Collins quietly had some of her best performances in the tournament as well. She scored 17 against Nebraska on 7-for-11 shooting and then added another 10 points the next day against Northwestern. However, similar to Bibby, Collins provided her best game in the championship. She went for 17 points with 50% shooting from deep and added six rebounds, two assists and one steal in just 25 minutes on the floor.
Bibby and Collins also combined for a total of just three turnovers over the course of three games.
Maryland’s starting forwards were efficient on the offensive end and scored from just about everywhere during the Big Ten tournament. Bibby and Collins consistently make the Terps a difficult team to beat because they can both score from just about anywhere on the floor, and we saw just that in Maryland’s run to another Big Ten title.
The forwards off the bench had big contributions as well. Freshman Angel Reese had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, along with two blocks and two steals, against Northwestern.
“The scoring came to me today, you know, I was able to score and rebound,” Reese said after the game. “Everything just came to my hands today, so I’m super happy and I’m just working back to get back to where I was, or whatever I need to do to help the team, so rebounding today was what helped the team win.”
The grad transfer from Cal, Alaysia Styles had a team-high 15 points against Northwestern in the 23 minutes she saw on the court. Styles shot a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and shot 1-for-2 from the charity stripe in that performance.
Sophomore guard Faith Masonius continued to make key plays for the Terps on both sides of the court. Against Northwestern, Masonius put up 11 points, grabbed four boards and had three assists. In the title game against Iowa, she had eight points shooting 4-for-4 from the field, along with five boards, three assists and two steals.
The Terps’ top scoring offense proved how lethal it can be
In just three postseason games, Maryland’s No. 1 scoring offense in the nation did not disappoint to any extent.
Despite the fairly close quarterfinal match against Nebraska, the Terps used their fast-paced and efficient offense to get the job done.
Nebraska played Maryland tight in the first matchup of the tournament, but the Terps still collected 83 points on approximately 46% shooting from the field. Maryland managed to still have four players to score at least 17 points, with Owusu leading the way with 22. Miller chipped in with 18, and the Bibby-Collins duo combined for 35 points.
In the semifinal win over Northwestern, which was easily Maryland’s most dominant win of the tournament, the Terps scored 85 points. It finished with six players scoring in double figures as the team finished with a remarkable 59% shooting clip from the field.
Then, in the championship game against Iowa, Maryland’s offense exploded for 104 points in just 40 minutes of basketball. Maryland’s 104 points in the Big Ten tournament title victory were the most points ever scored by a men’s or women’s team in the championship game. It was also the sixth time this season that the Terps have scored at least 100 points.
In the win, Maryland set the Big Ten tournament title game records for most points (104), most three-pointers made (11), largest winning margin (+20) and most team assists (29). In every single game, the Terps finished with at least 20 assists as a team.
“It’s very special, Miller said. “We just work hard and we just like to have fun and play basketball, so it is special,” Miller said after Saturday’s win.
Overall, the Terps averaged just over 90 points per game through three games in the Big Ten tournament. That’s a remarkable feat considering that no other team in the nation averaged at least 90 points during the regular season. Maryland’s offense is rolling as it heads to another NCAA Tournament appearance.
Maryland deserves to be in conversation for a No. 1-seed in March Madness
With the official NCAA Tournament bracket unveiling just around the corner, it’s time to seriously consider Maryland as a No. 1-seed in March Madness after the it absolutely routed competition in the Big Ten tournament.
Maryland has now won 24 of its 26 games played this season and both of its losses came to top-25 teams (then-No. 17 Ohio State and then-No. 24 Missouri State). In a pretty strong Big Ten that currently features four teams in the AP Top 25 Poll, the Terps went 17-1 in the regular season, which doesn’t include the 3-0 record against Big Ten teams throughout the Big Ten tournament. The Terps also beat seven teams ranked in the top 25 of the NET, as well as 10 teams in the top-50.
After scoring 100+ points once again, Maryland continues to maintain its status of best offense in the nation. The Terps still also have the most efficient assist to turnover ratio in the country.
And despite not defeating a ranked team in the Big Ten tournament, Maryland still has a strong resume from its regular season. The Terps went 5-2 against ranked AP Top 25 teams in the regular season en route to finishing atop the Big Ten standings once again.
Since its second loss of the season, all the way back on Jan. 25, Maryland has won 13 straight games, all coming against Big Ten teams. In those 13 wins, not a single opponent has finished within single digits of Frese’s squad. Maryland’s closest margin of victory came in the quarterfinals against Nebraska, when it won by 10 points.
It’s been a season of dominance for Frese and the Terps, and after winning its fifth Big Ten tournament title in seven seasons, it’s time to put Maryland into serious consideration for a No. 1-seed.
“I know we’re really excited about what lies ahead, but we’re gonna cherish this,” Frese said. “This was three days of really a ton of work and putting it together but, you know, this one’s a special one... this one is going to be one that I’ll always remember.”