The Terps bounced back in a big way from their loss over a ranked Indiana team.
Following a tough loss to then-No. 8 Indiana on Sunday, the No. 10 Maryland Women’s basketball team (11-4) welcomed the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-6) to the Xfinity Center for its first home game since Dec. 8.
Maryland looked determined to not lose its second consecutive conference game of the season, after a tough 70-63 overtime loss to the Hoosiers.
The Terps were locked in from the opening tip with their tenacity. They clogged the passing lanes and moved the ball with an intent to score on each possession. Head coach Brenda Frese’s team efficiently scored and moved the ball around all game long as Maryland recorded 20 assists in the Terps’ dominant 106-78 victory over Penn State.
Five Terps scored in double figures, led by guard Diamond Miller who led Maryland with 24 points.
Here are three takeaways from Maryland’s win.
Diamond Miller entered the starting lineup and set the tone for the Terps.
Maryland guard Diamond Miller was inserted in the starting lineup for the first time since the 2020-21 season. Miller has been dealing with a lingering lower-body injury and she finally seems to be reaching full strength. The guard seized the opportunity and showed out in front of the home fans at the Xfinity Center.
When the Terps scored, they got into their routine 1-2-2 press, with Miller in the front causing havoc. Miller consistently used her length to cut off passing angles and communicated to her teammates throughout each defensive possession.
“I mean, when you play both ends of the floor as hard as she does, you know, she defends really, really hard and that gets the energy going and then you know, in transition, you know, I thought we were really unselfish,” Frese said of Miller’s defensive efforts.
Miller’s impact wasn’t just felt on the defensive end, though, as she recorded 15 points in the first half to help Maryland to a massive 53-28 lead going into the break. The Somerset, New Jersey native put plenty of pressure on Penn State’s transition defense, as Miller attacked with aggression and got to the basket at will.
Miller was aggressive the entire game, consistently looking for her shot and ways to ignite the Terps offense. She finished with 24 points, four rebounds and four assists. Her point total against Penn State was easily her season-high and her previous high on the year was 17 points, which she got last game against Indiana.
Miller’s improved play on the floor opens up the Terps’ offense, and to see her come through with a solid performance with 30 minutes on the floor – the second-most on Maryland for the game – means that Maryland’s offense should be just fine moving forward. Miller finished 10-for-13 from the floor and scored the most for Maryland.
Ashley Owusu broke through her shooting slump.
Coming into the game versus Penn State, Maryland standout guard Ashley Owusu had been in an uncharacteristic shooting lull. The talented junior had 10 points and went 4-13 from the field and recorded an uncharacteristic seven turnovers in Maryland’s 70-63 overtime loss to Indiana, a far cry from her normal performances.
Against Penn State, Owusu got into the paint early and looked determined to score a few easy shots to allow herself to see the ball drop in, which ultimately got her offense going. The Virginia native contributed in multiple ways, snagging four rebounds and registering five assists en route to her 20-point game.
Owusu is one of the craftiest guards in the country, with her ability to keep defenders at bay with her strong handle and nasty crossover. With her dynamic scoring and playmaking ability, most would surmise that her shooting slump would not last very long.
“It felt really good to play well tonight. I think I can speak for my team. I think we just came out and had fun. We did what we had to do on defense, which correlated to our offense,” Owusu said.
The junior’s performance was on-par with Miller. She finished 8-for-13 from the floor and only turned the ball over once in 24 minutes. Her 15 points in the first half was a good sign for the Terps as they have seemed to recapture their magic out of the backcourt.
The Terps’ defense showed flashes of dominance.
Maryland’s defense is one of its staples, as the Terps are one of the premier teams in the country that can defend at a high level on the perimeter and in the paint.
Maryland sophomore forward/guard Angel Reese is one of the most versatile defenders in the country, as the Baltimore native is more than capable of switching onto smaller guards. Reese, who stands at 6-foot-3, has length that causes problems for ball handlers to get to the basket and she’s so quick that she can affect any shot with her outstanding agility to slide her feet and contest shots.
“With how we play defensively, her length wreaks havoc,” Frese said. “To have that kind of size as a big guard and to be able to defend all five positions is unique. She just keeps getting better and better on the defensive end.”
Reese finished with 15 points on just 6-for-14 shooting, but contributed with two blocks and a steal to help round out Maryland’s defensive effort.
Elsewhere, Maryland guard Katie Benzan showcased her outstanding effort and desire to set the tone on the defensive end with her timely rotations and quick hands. Benzan recorded four steals for the Terps and constantly took on the challenge of guarding bigger opponents.
The 5-foot-6 guard not only recorded a team-high four steals but also communicated consistently on screens whenever the Terps were tested on defense.
Maryland’s defense was strong and translated into instant offense. The Terps recorded 16 steals and scored 26 points off of the Nittany Lions turnovers en route to the 28-point win in College Park.