Despite a late run by No. 23 Michigan State (8-1,3-1 B1G), No. 12 Maryland (8-1,4-0 B1G) held on in East Lansing, 93-87, to remain in first place in the Big Ten and hand Michigan State their first loss of the season.
Maryland used a second quarter 11-0 run to inch away and head into halftime with a 15-point advantage. While the offense is usually the spark, it was the Terps stellar defense in the first half that led the way and allowed Maryland to extend the lead. Maryland held the Spartans to just 33 first half points, Michigan State’s lowest first half total of the season.
Head Coach Brenda Frese’s decision to play a zone defense hindered the Spartans first half offense and allowed the Terps to get stops and easy baskets in transition. Maryland scored 28 fast break points, compared to the Spartans 14.
Maryland struggled to shoot the ball in the second half, which allowed Michigan State to climb back in the game. The Terps shot 57% from three in the first half and 53% from the field. In the second half, however, Maryland shot just 18% from beyond the arc and 31% from the field.
Even without shots falling, Maryland still found ways to put points on the board. Maryland continued to attack the basket and draw fouls. The Terps shot 87% from the free throw line on 38 attempts, while Michigan State had only 14 attempts.
Frese pointed to her team’s toughness when talking about how they handled a late comeback from the Spartans on the road.
“This group is really resilient and just has a really tough mindset,” Frese said.
Frese’s group put together a balanced scoring attack, with all five starters scoring double-digit points. Guard Ashley Owusu and forward Chloe Bibby led the way with 20 points a piece. Guard Katie Benzan chipped in with 19 of her own, while guard Diamond Miller and forward Mimi Collins contributed with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
When Michigan State cut the Terps lead to three with under a minute remaining, it was Owusu who took control of the game, finding her teammates to knock down free throws. Owusu had 10 rebounds and six assists to go along with her 20 points.
“It’s not just plays that [Ashley] knows she has to score,” Frese said about her point guard. “She does have that feel when she needs to take over, but she also just makes winning plays that makes her really hard to be able to defend.”
Maryland extends its winning streak to seven games and will be back at home on Sunday as they take on the Purdue Boilermakers in another Big Ten showdown.