By Brandon Alter
Special to The Sports Pulse
Abby Meyers found herself one-on-one with her defender Caitlin Clark, one of the best 3-point shooters in the country. Meyers shook Clark loose, with the latter falling to the ground looking for a foul call. Instead, the guard used the open space to drain a 3-pointer to give Maryland the lead early in the second quarter.
The No. 7 Terrapins (23-5, 14-3 Big Ten) never looked back as their lights-out shooting propelled the team to a 96-68 blowout over No. 6 Iowa. Maryland outscored the Hawkeyes 27-8 in the frame, with the Terps shooting 7 of 11 from behind the arc.
“That second quarter was a thing of beauty,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “You saw the defensive game plan we had; we were super locked in. Then offensively, just how unselfish we were.”
While Meyers may have started the party, Brinae Alexander was the headliner.
Alexander went 4 of 5 from 3-point range in the second quarter leading the Terrapins on a 29-4 run. Maryland built up a 20-point lead in the frame, where coming in, Iowa’s largest deficit this season was 15.
Alexander tied her career high of six 3-pointers and a new season high of 24 points, just two off her career high. Lavender Briggs also had a new season high for the Terps with 19. Miller and Shyanne Sellers both also reached double figures.
“I feel I was due for a good shooting game,” Alexander said. “But also, at the same time, I think my defense fuels my offense, and I know that if shots aren’t falling, that’s the one thing I can keep consistent.”
Maryland’s second-quarter dominance also came while star Diamond Miller was on the bench with two fouls.
Miller picked up her second foul with the game tied at 22 less than three minutes into the second quarter. Freese’s frustration from Miller picking up a critical foul turned into relief as Briggs and Alexander picked up the slack.
“It was absolutely an x-factor,” Frese said of Alexander and Briggs providing points off the bench. “It was the reason why we dominated this game. Those two were pretty special for us tonight.”
Maryland went into the locker room 46-28. Three weeks ago, the Hawkeyes scored 29 points in the first quarter. The biggest difference was the adjustment Maryland made defensively from the previous meeting.
Rather than press Iowa, a hallmark of the Terrapins’ defensive scheme this season, Maryland played zone for part of the night and denied Clark and Monika Czinano the ball. As a result, the duo combined for just 22 points after tallying 70 in the previous meeting three weeks ago.
“We know that Monika and Caitlin take most of their shots, so limiting their touches was really vital,” Sellers said.
The pair combined for just 18 shots, going a combined 7-18.
Iowa couldn’t crack Maryland’s defense in the second half or stop the Terrapins’ offense. As a result, Maryland’s lead ballooned to 30 midway through the fourth quarter.
The win gave the Terps a fourth top-10 win of the season, and Frese feels the team is finding its stride at the perfect time.
“[We have] put together a real complete resume,” Frese said. “[We’re] peaking at the right time going into the tournament.”
Photos by Michael R. Smith/The Sports Pulse.