By Brandon Alter
Special to The Sports Pulse
The Maryland women’s basketball team uses its defense to keep its energy high and generate momentum. Often that comes from an aggressive press or getting a steal.
On Monday evening, a shot clock violation sparked Maryland’s play.
The No. 8 Terrapins (18-4, 9-2 Big Ten) held a two-point lead halfway through the first quarter over visiting Penn State before forcing the violation. Lavender Briggs scored off the turnover and was followed up by Bri McDaniel, hitting a 3-pointer from the elbow.
The two baskets were the start of a dominant first-quarter run that ended up being the difference in Maryland’s 87-66 win over the Lady Lions.
“It’s really important for us to come out and punch first,” Shyanne Sellers said.
Briggs’ layup started a 20-2 run to end the quarter, with Diamond Miller having a highlight reel layup. Miller crossed up her defender near the 3-point line, split between two more in the paint, and finished a reverse layup while falling out of bounds through contact. After the opening 10 minutes, the Terps led 29-9.
“Our defense to offense opportunities [is something] we thrive off of,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said about how the run started.
Abby Meyers recorded a season-high 24 points to lead all scorers, with Sellers (15) and Miller (14) reaching double figures. Meyers also picked up a team-high six rebounds, while Elisa Pinzan registered five assists. McDaniel and Brinae Alexander both scored eight points off the bench.
After shooting 12 for 17 in the opening frame, Maryland struggled offensively in the second. The Terrapins were 4 of 11 from the field and missed five of their first six shots of the quarter.
Despite the offensive struggles, Maryland’s defense kept the Lady Lions from cutting into the deficit. Maryland held Penn State to nine points on 3 of 14 shots, and the Terrapins took a 41-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“I think it’s just one of those things where the great teams aren’t always going to make their shots. They’re going to go through slumps,” Meyers said of the second quarter. “But they’re able to stay consistent on defense and prevent runs.”
In the third quarter, Maryland went to the bench up by 25 points midway through the period. However, against a young lineup, the Lady Lions cut the lead down to just 15.
“We let some things go in the third quarter that we got to be able to fix,” Frese said.
After a late third-quarter timeout, Frese got her message across, and the Terps started to rebuild their large lead.
Maryland led by 22, 76-54, early in the fourth quarter. Frese once again went to her bench. But, this time, the reserves maintained the Terrapins’ advantage to lock down the win.
Maryland now faces one of its most challenging stretches of the season, a visit to No. 6 Iowa before returning to College Park to take on No. 10 Ohio State days later.
“I think it’s definitely exciting, a great opportunity to have,” Sellers said. “I think it [will come] down to being the most disciplined team.”
Feature photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse