Guard Shyanne Sellers found a wide open Ashley Owusu streaking to the basket in a six-point game with under a minute left. Owusu, in her first game back, could not convert the layup. The game neared its end and the Terps failed to close the gap.
Owusu’s missed opportunity summed up the No. 13 Terps’ (20-7, B1G 12-4) afternoon, as No. 9 Michigan (21-4, B1G 12-3) snapped the eight game winning streak Maryland women’s basketball has enjoyed in its late-season push with a, 71-59, win.
“I thought it was an extremely physical game by both teams,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “I thought it was a tough shooting night for us.”
With the win, the Wolverines moved into first place in the Big Ten standings.
It was a low scoring first half for both teams. Neither team could get a bucket to fall until two minutes in, when Wolverines forward Naz Hillmon forced her way into the paint for an easy layup.
Forward Mimi Collins got the Terps’ offense going soon after, hitting two mid range jumpers that powered Maryland to a 11-4 run to close out the quarter and take a 13-11 lead.
Owusu made her return to the court three minutes into the game but struggled — much like the rest of her team offensively. The Terps’ floor general finished the game with two points, both from the free throw line, and three assists in 21 minutes.
“It was great to have her back on the floor,” Frese said. “It’s just getting her back with timing and rhythm and having these games to get her ready for the postseason.”
In spite of the tepid offense, Maryland remained steady on defense, forcing 15 first half turnovers, but the Terps only turned the giveaways into nine points. The Terps could not turn second half turnovers into points either, finishing with 19 points off 22 turnovers.
“We forced them into 22 turnovers and we just didn’t capitalize on those turnovers,” forward Chloe Bibby said.
A combination of Maryland’s poor offense, but pestering defense allowed both sides to enter the halftime break tied at 24. Hillmon single-handedly carried her team with 14 points and Bibby led the Terps with eight points.
The Terps struck first in the second half when Sellers cashed in a three pointer for her first points after the Terps kept the possession alive with some rebounds.
Forward Angel Reese struggled with some foul trouble after she picked up her third foul early in the third quarter and went back to the bench.
Wolverines guard Laila Phelia scored five straight points to jumpstart her team’s second half offense early in the third quarter.
Wolverines guard Danielle Raush converted a mid range jumper beating the shot clock to put Michigan up 40-37 with two minutes left in the third quarter. Raush’s bucket provided the momentum Michigan kept throughout the rest of the game.
The Terps struggled making baskets all afternoon. Late in the third quarter, Bibby found Collins for an open layup, but the bucket did not fall.
“We started attacking in the second half, but I think we started attacking a little bit too much and we didn’t kick the ball out,” Sellers said.
Hillmon continued to play like the All-American she is, making big plays consecutively, finishing with a game high 29 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
Early in the fourth quarter, Hillmon attacked the basket and drew Reese’s fourth foul on and made the bucket forcing Reese back to the bench. Reese sat out for a large portion of the second half and wound up fouling out with three minutes left. The Terps’ leading scorer finished with six points and five rebounds.
Michigan went on a 10-0 run, to build a 55-43 lead with 6:35 left but Sellers stopped the bleeding with a jumper.
The Terps managed to cut the deficit all the way to five points when Bibby made a clutch three with 51 seconds left to make it a 64-59 game, but that was as close as Maryland would get to completing the comeback.
Maryland will close out the regular season with a huge game against No. 6 Indiana at home on Friday night at 8 p.m. with the Big Ten regular season title still a possibility for both teams.