By Brandon Schwartzberg
No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball returns home Wednesday as coach Brenda Frese’s squad prepares to take on Purdue in a Big Ten conference battle in College Park.
Following their first two losses of the season, both occurring in the Bahamas as part of the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship, the Terps have rebounded strong with back-to-back wins against Miami and Rutgers.
Against the Hurricanes, Angel Reese was a dominant force on the inside. Reese collected eight offensive rebounds en route to a career-high 15-board performance in addition to a career-high 26 points, her fifth double-double of the season.
“I was hungry. Doing whatever I can. I was part of our loss last game so I didn’t feel like I played my best game and contributed everything I could because I was in foul trouble and undisciplined within the team. Being disciplined and learning from that was key to the win tonight,” Reese said postgame.
The Terps downed the Hurricanes 82-74 in their first game back in the states.
“Just a tremendous battle. I thought we showed a lot of grit and resiliency in the fourth quarter. Angel with a monster game, career-high in points and rebounds, and needed every single one of them.” Frese said. “I thought Ashley [Owusu] as our floor general took command of the second half. They had no answer for her and to get to the free throw line 14 times and step up the way she did was big.”
Reese’s strong performance continued against Rutgers, as in only 22 minutes of action, she led the Terps in scoring with 18 points along with six rebounds.
Three other Terps reached double-figures in points against the Scarlet Knights—Katie Benzan, Chloe Bibby, and Ashley Owusu— as Maryland spread the wealth around on offense.
Maryland’s defense was in top form, as the Terps allowed less than 60 points for just the third time this season. The 19 turnovers forced were tied for the third highest thus far, as the Terps were ferocious on the defensive end of the floor.
Maryland controlled both the paint and the fastbreak, as the Terps outscored Rutgers in both categories by 10 and 7 points, respectively.
From behind the arc, Maryland only connected on three 3-pointers, all coming from Benzan. Following a sluggish start from deep, Benzan has found her stroke, as she’s shot 14-28 from three-point range over her past four games.
Getting both Benzan and Faith Masonius back has been key for the Terps, as Maryland’s rotations and depth struggled without them while Diamond Miller nurses a knee injury. On Miller’s availability against Purdue, Freese said “no chance.”
Purdue comes in following a disappointing 70-53 loss to No. 20 Ohio State. Ohio State only led by five entering the fourth quarter, but the Buckeyes found another level to close out regulation and leave Mackey Arena with a comfortable win.
Purdue struggled tremendously on offense, as they shot only 29% from the field and 16% from deep. The Boilermakers only had two players reach double figures, and no one notched more than 3 assists in the contest.
Starting guard Cassidy Harden struggled for Purdue, scoring only five points and shooting 11% from the floor. The Boilermakers have faced three ranked teams thus far, going 1-2 in those battles. Purdue will look to even up that record as they take on Maryland, their first top ten opponent this season.
The game on Wednesday will start at 7 p.m. and will take place at the Xfinity Center in College Park.
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