With 8:39 left in the second quarter, Maryland was in a full-court 1-2-2 press that Minnesota struggled breaking all day. On this possession, Maryland forced the Gophers into a 10-second violation as they could not get the ball across halfcourt, which fired up the entire Terps bench, including Frese who clenched her fists and yelled in excitement.
That defensive intensity was there all game for the Terps and carried Maryland (16-2, 12-1 B1G) to a 94-62 victory as it completed the season sweep of Minnesota (7-11, 6-10 B1G) and won its fifth straight game.
The Gophers threw the first punch, jumping out to an early 5-0 lead. From there, it was all Maryland on both ends of the floor. The knockout jab came when Frese turned on the full court press and the Terps went on a 10-0 run while forcing a myriad of turnovers that were converted into baskets on the other end for Maryland. Minnesota had six first quarter turnovers. Maryland entered halftime with a 24-point cushion.
The first time these teams met in January, Maryland gave up 73 points, 43 of which came in the first half. The defensive effort from the Terps looked much different the second time around. Not only did Maryland’s trapping press speed up Minnesota’s guards, but in the halfcourt, the Terps contested everything and limited shooters’ windows, making it difficult for the Gophers to find any space offensively.
“It separates us into an elite level category,” Frese said about her group’s defensive success. “Now we’re playing both ends of the floor and that’s what you got to be able to have for March.”
Gophers star guard Jasmine Powell went down with a foot injury in the second quarter and would not return the rest of the game.
While the defense shined, Maryland’s No. 1 scoring offense showed why they are on track to become the first team in school history to average more than 90 points per game. The sophomore duo of Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller scored 24 and 20, respectively.
This is the seventh time this season the two guards have both scored at least 20 points in the same game. Maryland dominated inside and out, scoring 44 points in the paint while dishing out 26 assists.
“Defensively, I think, is where we’ve made the greatest growth,” Frese said. “But I’ll also say sharing the basketball, again, when you see 26 assists and five turnovers, I mean this team can really score the basketball.”
Midway through the third, Forward Mimi Collins took a hard hit to the face and was helped off the floor by trainers. She would also not return the rest of the game. The Terps bench stepped up the rest of the way in Collins’ absence. Faith Masonius was not a go-to scorer in this one, finishing with only five points, but did everything else to help her team get the win. Masonius grabbed six rebounds and dished out eight assists, a career high.
After the game, Frese said Collins had to get stitches on her forehead, but should be fine moving forward.
Across the sideline, there is familiarity between the two Big Ten opponents, beyond the fact they play each other twice a year. Minnesota’s head coach Lindsay Whalen is Frese’s former player from when Frese was at the realm at Minnesota during the 2001-02 season. Frese coached at Minnesota for only one year, where she was named AP National Coach of the Year, before moving east to take over the Maryland program.