Women’s basketball demolished by Penn State

Both Maryland and Penn State rank within the nation’s top-20 scoring offenses, with the Terps average nearly 81 team points per game, while the Nittany Lions sit at just above 86 points per game.

The fast-paced scoring volume for both teams remained constant yet again – culminating in an offensive showdown at the Bryce Jordan Center. Constant bursts by the Terps kept things close, but an early Nittany Lions’ scoring run and near-flawless second half shooting proved too much to overcome, as Maryland fell 112-76 to Penn State. 

An early full court press by the Terps limited the Nittany Lions to zero shots attempted through the first minute of play, but it wouldn’t hold for long. A blistering 7-0 Penn State run ensued – off jumpers and layups from Makenna Marisa, Ali Brigham, and Ashley Owusu – with the home team scoring at will to take an early lead, extending it to as much as 11 to begin the second quarter.

“I thought our first quarter was disappointing,” stressed head coach Brenda Frese. “We dug ourselves in a really big hole.”

But the road team stormed back, courtesy of a dominating 8-0 solo scoring run by Bri McDaniel that single-handedly brought the Terps back to within four. McDaniel’s offensive burst ignited the team’s defense, as Maryland proceeded to stifle Penn State throughout the middle of the second quarter – silencing the Nittany Lions to zero field goals scored throughout a crucial three-minute period.

Unfortunately for the Terps, Ashley Owusu had other plans. The former Maryland guard took over against her old team, scoring 12 points in the quarter alone to help lead a 22-13 run for Penn State. Owusu fired on all cylinders, finding success with timely points from the free throw line, beyond the arc, and inside the paint to extend the Nittany Lions’ lead to 13 heading into the break.

“We can’t control if [Penn State’s] making a lot of shots,” said Jakia Brown-Turner. “But we can still play our defense, still put our hand up, box out and do those little things.”

But it wasn’t over yet. The Terps showed resilience to start the second half, recovering from Owusu’s onslaught in a big way. Just over two minutes into the third quarter, Bri McDaniel looked to attack, accelerating past two defenders to the rim. After a pivot and pump fake, McDaniel fired a laser pass to Brown-Turner. With all the time in the world, Brown-Turner then cashed in on a wide-open corner triple to narrow the Nittany Lions’ lead and bring the Terps back to within single digits.

McDaniel (12 points), Brown-Turner (21 points), and Brinae Alexander (10 points) kept the Terps within striking distance – with the three accounting for 18 combined points to begin the second half. But it was déjà vu all over again to close out the third quarter, as Penn State proceeded to break the game open.

Incredibly efficient shooting from the Nittany Lions (83% on third-quarter triples, 70% on all third-quarter field goals) extended its lead to 26 in the early minutes of the fourth quarter. The varied scoring attack – Marisa with 24, Owusu with 16, Tay Valladay with 14, and Leilani Kapinus with 15 – left the Terps searching for answers, unable to play efficient help defense without leaving a Penn State player with room to score.

“Penn State, clearly, whether we went man or zone, had a plan,” said Frese. “[They] shot lights out…we had no answer, whichever defense we were in.”

The offensive onslaught continued to end the game, as the Nittany Lions found the bottom of the net on nearly every triple attempted, leading yet another 30-14 scoring run to lead by more than 30 – effectively icing the game to beat Maryland for the first time since December of 2003.

With the loss, the Terps fall to 12-8 on the season (4-5 conference record), while still maintaining a 21-15 all-time series lead over Penn State.

Maryland now enters its most crucial two-game week so far this season, in which they’ll look to bounce back and defend home court in a pair of ranked games against No. 14 Indiana (16-2 record; Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.) and No. 5 Iowa (19-2; Saturday at 8:00 p.m.).

“This week doesn’t get any easier,” Frese emphasized. “We’re going to have to move onto the next and put a great plan together as we go back home.”