For Terps women, the ranks grow thinner, the winning streak grows longer
By Kareem Copeland,
The Maryland women’s basketball team added to its win column Thursday even as the Terrapins collected another serious injury barely 24 hours earlier.
The No. 9 Terrapins, who handled Minnesota, 90-73, on the road in Minneapolis, have begun to grow accustomed to a shorter rotation after their latest injury — the loss of guard Channise Lewis. Lewis will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery Wednesday for a torn right ACL and meniscus suffered last week against Michigan State.
Lewis wasn’t exactly filling up the stat sheet — she was averaging 5.1 points and 3.4 assists — but she was a key contributor off a bench that is quickly thinning.
Her absence left starters Ashley Owusu (32 minutes) and Katie Benzan (33) playing extended stretches before the game got out of reach in the fourth quarter. Owusu and Chloe Bibby (32) played the entire first half and all but four combined minutes in the first three quarters.
The Terps where already shorthanded with starting forward Angel Reese, the No. 1 recruit in the country, out with a broken foot and just 11 players on the roster. Forward Alaysia Styles just became available after graduating from Cal in December and is now one of the first off the bench. Freshmen Taisiya Kozlova and Zoe Young haven’t played much, leaving Coach Brenda Frese with basically a seven-player rotation.
The challenge for Frese will be managing the minutes of her key players. Against the Golden Gophers (2-7, 1-6), their workload wasn’t lightened until the fourth quarter as the Terps won their ninth straight.
Diamond Miller scored a game-high 23 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.
“[The coaching staff] want me to have a complete game and that’s on offense and defense,” Miller said. “I know I can play defense. Now I just have to prove it to the coaches and everybody. I think I was doing that.
“I still have lots to learn, but this was a good start for me. I just have to keep building on this.”
Bibby was two points shy of her career high with 22 to go with nine rebounds, two steals and a block.
“My teammates were finding me and I was just trying to finish where I could,” Bibby said. “Really, trying to get on the [offensive] boards, that helped us out a lot.
“[Frese] definitely got onto us, but that’s what we need. We’re a young team, still learning. It was great she held us accountable and it was good the way we were able to react and come out of that. We can’t start games like that. If we have a first half like that against a Top 10 opponent and we’re down by 20.”
Owusu, the reigning Naismith Award national player of the week, finished with 11 points, five rebounds and eight assists. Benzan had 20 points, including six three-pointers.
Miller played 29 minutes while the other three players were all over 30.
Jasmine Powell scored 22 for Minnesota, including four three-pointers, and had eight assists and seven rebounds. Sara Scalia chipped in 14 points, and Klarke Sconiers added 13.
Both teams had their offenses clicking in the first half, which ended with Maryland up, 50-43. The Terps, the second-highest scoring team in the nation, were playing at their preferred pace. But the Gophers’ offensive prowess was a bit unexpected, with Powell hitting her first four attempts from beyond the arc.
“Obviously, we were disappointed defensively in our first half of play,” Frese said. “Love our response out of the locker room. I thought the third quarter, obviously, was Maryland basketball — how we know how to play.
“We took accountability and decided to show up with our effort and our intensity [after halftime]. They were challenged at halftime and I thought it was a terrific response. But it can’t take us 20 minutes to get playing.”
The Terps found their defensive footing in the third quarter, creating some breathing room. Benzan opened the scoring with a three-pointer and Miller scored 10 points during a 21-6 run to create separation. The Gophers were 4 for 14 from the field in that third quarter and 0 for 2 from behind the arc.
Notes: The game was a bit of a homecoming for Frese, who led the Gophers for a single season in 2001-02, when she coached Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota’s current coach. The Gophers went 22-8 that season, and Frese was named AP national coach of the year. She left to take the job at Maryland after the season. . . .
The Terps will stay in the Midwest to play at Wisconsin on Sunday at 3 p.m. before returning home.