Early in the third quarter, guard Katie Benzan came off a screen on the left wing, stepped back and set her feet for an open three. With no one around, she nailed it for one of her six three-point makes on the day.
The following offensive possession, the Terps found Chloe Bibby on the same wing. She stepped into her three and drilled it to extend the Terps lead to 25. It was all Maryland, all game, as the Terps swarming defense led to highly productive offense. Benzan led the Terps on the offensive end with 22 points on 50% shooting from beyond the arc.
Maryland took an early 10-0 lead to start the game and never looked back as they dismantled Illinois in College Park, 103-58. Maryland has now won four straight with just four regular season games left to go.
Against a struggling Illinois team that is in last place in the Big Ten, Maryland never let up, continuing to apply pressure, force turnovers and convert on the offensive end. Maryland’s number one scoring offense in the country this season eclipsed the 100-point mark against a conference opponent for the first time since Feb. 16, 2020.
Maryland wore pink warm up shirts that read “Power in Pink” for breast cancer awareness. Many players repped pink sneakers as well to show their support.
After the first 20 minutes of action, Maryland led 54-33 and forced the Fighting Illini to turn the ball over 15 times. Maryland’s stifling first half defense came with full-court presses and half court traps. Maryland scored 24 points off of turnovers in the first half and 32 for the game.
“I think our defense really feeds into our offense in our transition game and that’s what we were able to do,” Bibby said. “It’s something that we’re learning to feed off that energy from our defense to our offense.”
As is common in Maryland wins, the wealth was spread on offense once again as all nine active players entered the scoring column, including Zoe Young, who knocked down her second three pointer in a Maryland uniform late in the fourth quarter. The bench erupted as they watched Young’s three ball hit the back of the net. Angel Reese, who is still inactive due to injury, even ran down the sideline to give Frese a high-five.
“That’s how a championship team is built,” Frese said about the selflessness of her offense. “When you go through March and the postseason, you know, every single night it’s going to be different.”
Bibby dominated inside with 20 points, 11 of which came in the third quarter, to go along with nine rebounds. Owusu finished with 17 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Diamond Miller and Mimi Collins each chipped in 11 and 9, respectively. Off the bench, Faith Masonius had nine points and three rebounds and Alaysia Styles had eight points. The Terps finished the game with 24 assists, the second highest mark of the season.
Prior to tip-off, head coach Brenda Frese was honored at halfcourt for her 500th win as Maryland head coach, a milestone that made her the winningest head coach in program history. Frese 500th win came on the road against Nebraska last Sunday.
Just hours before the Terps took on the Fighting Illini, Frese was named to the Naismith Coach of the Year Watch List. Frese is one of 15 coaches named to the list. Frese has taken a team with zero returning starters to first place in the Big Ten and a top ten ranking in the AP poll.