Late first-quarter run, stout defense propels No. 10 Maryland to victory over No. 13 Michigan

By Brandon Alter
Special to The Sports Pulse

The Maryland women’s basketball team found itself in an early hole against visiting Michigan Thursday night, with just two players on the scoresheet in the game’s first seven minutes. However, that changed when Lavender Briggs fired home a 3-pointer from the left wing.

The basket gave the No. 10 Terrapins (17-4, 8-2 Big Ten) a two-point lead, and the team never looked back en route to a 72-64 win over the No. 13 Wolverines.

[See more photos from the game here!]

“I wasn’t really thinking. I was just trying to play aggressive from the jump,” Briggs said. “I came in and knocked down my shot.”

The triple was part of a 13-2 run Maryland went on to end the opening quarter that put the home side up seven after the opening 10 minutes.

Jan. 26, 2023: Maryland Terrapins guard Shyanne Sellers (0) puts up a shot in a Big Ten women’s basketball game against the Michigan Wolverines at Xfinity Center in College Park, Maryland. (Michael R. Smith/The Sports Pulse).

Part of the success was generating turnovers. The Terrapins forced eight Wolverine turnovers and turned those into eight points in the first quarter. By the end of the game, Maryland forced 24 turnovers and converted them into 25 points. It was the fourth straight game the Terrapins forced 20 or more turnovers.

“I thought our defense was able to separate them. We were able to get out [in transition],” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “A lot of different hands were touching the ball,” as the Terrapins ended the quarter with five different scorers.

Diamond Miller led the way scoring a game-high 23 points, followed by Briggs with 14, while Abby Meyers recorded her second double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“It makes it fun when everyone’s feeling themselves,” Meyers said. “We’re moving the ball really well. We’ll take that night if everyone’s feeling it.” As for herself, Meyers said she just happened to have a “nose for the ball” when it came to rebounds.

Maryland needed the hot hand all around as Miller and reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Shyanne Sellers was in foul trouble. However, Frese said Briggs was the “x-factor” in the win.

“Just big moments. Big shots,” Frese said. “Having the confidence to step up.”

Jan. 26, 2023: Maryland Terrapins guard Lavender Briggs (3) shoots the ball in a Big Ten women’s basketball game against the Michigan Wolverines at Xfinity Center in College Park, Maryland. (Michael R. Smith/The Sports Pulse).

Despite the big shots and turnovers, Michigan kept it close.

Maryland held a 56-44 lead after the third quarter but could never put the game out of reach. The Wolverines cut the lead to seven with just under five minutes to play but then went on a scoring drought that lasted 2:30.

All night, when Maryland wasn’t generating the turnovers, they forced Michigan into tough shots, especially from deep, where the Wolverines shot 7 of 20.

“We definitely wanted to throw a lot of different looks at [Michigan],” Frese said. “They don’t have a true point guard. … It was important for us to keep them off-balance. Some of the full-court press, man, being able to switch aggressively, our zone. Us being able to have those different wrinkles is big for us when we’re scouting opponents.”

After Miller fouled out with just over two minutes left, Maryland knew they had to buckle down defensively after Michigan cut it to just six a minute later.

“When Diamond went out, it was ‘let’s defend as best we can,’” Meyers said. “Coach kept saying defense is going to win; it’s going to be on the defensive end. Whatever happens on offensively will happen, but we got to limit the fouls. We got to limit their easy attempts.” 

Maryland needed the defense in the end as they finished without a field goal in the last 4:24 seconds of the contest.

Feature photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse

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