No. 2 seed Maryland women’s basketball started off its 2021 NCAA Tournament run with a bang, defeating No. 15 seed Mount St. Mary’s, 98-45. The 53-point margin of victory is the largest by any team, men’s and women’s, in an NCAA Tournament game in program history.
Five Terps had double-digit scoring performances. Sophomore guards Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller led the way with 22 points and 19 points, respectively. Owusu was also two rebounds and three assists shy from a triple-double.
Senior forward Chloe Bibby had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while redshirt sophomore forward Mimi Collins and freshman forward Angel Reese had 12 and 11 points, respectively.
“It was great to be a part of [that game] and especially with this group of girls because we all have so much love for each other on and off the court,” Owusu said.
With the win, the Terps extended their win streak to 14 and advance to the Round of 32, where they will face No. 7-seed Alabama Wednesday at 1 p.m.
Here are my three biggest takeaways from the victory.
Maryland got the job done on both ends of the court
This is the top scoring offense in the country and that showed against the Mount. The Terps scored 98 points, well above their average 91.3 that they put up per game. In addition to the four players finishing in double-digit scoring, the Terps also had 21 assists on 34 field goals and 18 offensive boards.
However, often overlooked because of the explosive offensive, is how stifling this Maryland defense is.
Against Mount St. Mary’s the Terps forced 20 turnovers and scored 30 points off of those takeaways. Maryland currently averages a whopping 20.5 points off turnovers and their opponents this season have averaged 16.4 turnovers per game.
The second quarter of this matchup showcased Maryland’s talent both offensively and defensively. The Terps held the Mount to just four points while they scored 25 of their own. Mount St. Mary’s four points are the lowest amount they have been held to all in a quarter all season. In that frame, they shot 2-for-16 (12.5%) from the field and 0-for-7 from behind the arc.
“I thought we did a great job, you know, obviously covering each other’s back and being able to use our lane” head coach Brenda Frese said. “I think that’s a big thing. And then after we settled in, I didn’t think there were a lot of open shots...we were able to contest as many as possible.”
On the other side of the court, the Terps shot 73.3% (1-for-15) from the field and made one of their two attempted shots from deep along with both attempts from the charity stripe.
Maryland also held Mount St. Mary’s to multiple scoring droughts throughout the game outside of that quarter. The Terps finished the game on a 12-1 run that lasted over three and a half minutes and held the Mount to zero field goals for the final four minutes of the matchup.
Also of note, the Terps made sure not a single player on the Mount hit double-digit scoring and held them to just two fastbreak points.
“The media has been talking about how we’re so offensive heavy, but our defense may be a little iffy, so we kind of take that and...we want to come out and, you know, show them that we can play defense,” Owusu said.
The Terps’ bench continues to make an impact
Although this Maryland active roster is on the smaller side with just 10 players due to redshirt junior guard Channise Lewis being out for the remainder of the season with a torn meniscus and ACL, every person who steps on the court in a Maryland jersey is ready to play.
“...It doesn’t matter, like if we’re starting or not, we just we’re gonna attack as many teams as we can,” Miller said. “And that’s why we have the depth we have because we just have so many scorers at all levels.”
That could not have been more true Monday with 29 of Maryland’s points coming from the bench. Every active player saw at least 10 minutes on the court and made their minutes count.
Reese had 11 points, six boards, and a block, followed by senior forward Alaysia Styles, who had eight points, six boards, an assist and three steals. Sophomore guard Faith Masonius and freshman guard Taisiya Kozlova had five points each. While Masonius added six boards, three assists and a steal, Kozlova shot a perfect 2-for-2 from the field including a bucket from deep. Although redshirt freshman Zoe Young did not score she made her mark with four assists and a steal.
“They’ve really stepped up in these past couple months, honestly it’s not, you know, it’s not just today they’ve really put the work in. And they’ve seen those results and so it’s really great to see that they’re able to come off,” Bibby said. “It’s just, it gives us so much energy and it’s just waves we just keep hitting them. So really proud of them today, but not surprised, I mean they’ve been putting in the work.”
The depth of talent that Maryland has on its roster allows the team to continue to be as successful as they have been all season. With their next matchup on Wednesday, the Terps have the advantage to use fresh legs throughout this game.
“Yeah deepness within our bench and even our starters is very important,” Owusu said. “It help us when in scouting— you could take away one or even two players and you’re going to have three other players that step up and help get the job done.”
It may be most of this team’s first time in the NCAA Tournament but it certainly does not look like it
Another theme of this season for the Terps is how young this team is. With the coronavirus cutting the 2019-20 season short, this is the first NCAA Tournament appearance for majority of this roster, including sophomore leaders Owusu and Miller.
However, despite having some young faces, transfers Bibby and senior guard Katie Benzan have stepped into leadership positions of their own throughout the course of this season.
“When I came into the locker room at halftime, I could hear Chloe Bibby and Katie Benzan talking to the team,” Frese said. “So it’s great as a coach when you walk in a locker room and it’s being player led and it’s being led by your veterans that just have a ton of experience to be able to help the youngins through it.”
While at Mississippi State, Bibby advanced to a Final Four and is the only player on the roster to know what it feels like to be in that environment. However, based on Maryland’s calm and cool demeanor along with the impressive numbers it put up in their 2021 tournament debut, it looked like this team has been here before.
The Terps shot 52.3% from the field, 38.5% from deep and 83.3% from the charity stripe. Although the Mountaineers kept it close at the beginning of the first quarter, Maryland closed the first frame out with a 15-6 run and then had its second quarter response when it held the Mount to just four points.
After winning the Big Ten regular season title and the Big Ten tournament, it seems that the team is just coming into each game with the same mindset they’ve had all season which is just being ready to play Maryland basketball.
“Coach told us coming into this tournament, ‘Basketball, basketball, it’s just a different court,’ and I think that’s how we’ve been playing,” Miller said. “We’re not going to make this bigger than it is. It’s just basketball at the end of the day and I think that’s how we’re playing.”