With Maryland losing star guard Blair Watson for the season earlier this month, it had been a challenge to adjust play without her. But after the win against then No.8 Ohio State, they seem to be getting their groove as they head to Evanston to play Northwestern Thursday.
“What I love about this team is they just keep trusting and keep putting their head down and working,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “They don’t get down about what we don’t have.”
Maryland (17-3, 6-1) is 2-1 since her injury and routed the Buckeyes by 30 points last Monday.
“You talk about lining up together for 40 minutes. I thought it was our most complete game.” Frese said Monday night.
The Terps lead the whole game and held Ohio State, who was No. 1 in scoring offense this season, to one of its lowest points. Kaila Charles scored a career high 32 points while freshman point guard Channise Lewis had 10 assists.
“Channisse has been up and coming. I think every practice she is learning more and more how to command the team.” Kristen Confroy said about Lewis. Channisse leads the team in assists and is fourth in the Big Ten.
“We are getting to that point where we keep moving and keep everyone involved,” said Confroy, “and because everyone on the court is a threat we can make sure we can move the ball and get the best shot.”
The Terps had a team effort with everyone stepping up and scoring, except for Lewis. They are still the only team in the nation who has seven players averaging double figures.
Northwestern (9-12, 2-5) is coming into Thursday’s game with two straight road defeats by less than 10 points. The charge is led by Lindsay Pulliam who averages 14 points per game.
However, Maryland will have to focus more on the inside defensivly as the Wildcats are last in the Big Ten in three point field goals. Maryland’s defense has also been stepping up without the injured Watson, who was the team leader in steals.
“I think that every shot she took or attempted was difficult, and I think it was our team defense.” Frese said about defending Ohio state’s best player Kelsey Mitchell. Maryland will have to employ the same defense against sharp shooter Pulliam.
Since Watson’s injury, Maryland’s combination of scoring offense and persistent defensive rebounding has rounded out the team to play more 40 minute games, like coach Frese said.
“What it speaks on January 22nd is that that we played a full 40 minutes against a great team,” Frese said. “But we know that we are only seven games into the conference schedule and Michigan State provided us a valuable lesson on that.”
The Terps will try not to let the confidence go to their head as they play Northwestern in Evanston on Thursday at 8 p.m.
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