Chloe Bibby and Katie Benzan’s shooting is poised to be key to Maryland women’s basketball
Guard Katie Benzan spots up during Maryland women’s basketball’s 81-72 loss to Missouri State on Nov. 28, 2020, in Estero, Florida. (Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics)
It seemed like no one saw Chloe Bibby. She was open near the left wing, jumping and waving her hands to grab her teammates’ attention. But just as it seemed she would be looked over, the ball came her way.
Ashley Owusu slung a cross-court overhand pass to her, and the Mississippi State transfer nailed a three-pointer halfway through the second quarter, padding Maryland women’s basketball’s double-digit lead against then-No. 14 Arkansas.
The Terps rained in shots all Sunday night from deep, finishing with 16 three-pointers as they defeated the Razorbacks, 115-96. Thirteen of those came from Bibby and Katie Benzan, two senior transfers who have made a mark on the program in their short time in College Park.
In just three games, the two have combined to shoot 44.2 percent from deep on over 40 attempts. And they don’t plan on cooling off anytime soon.
“We’re shooters, if we’re open, we’re gonna take the shot,” Bibby said. “Make or miss, we’re gonna keep taking them.”
That mentality served them well in the third game of the Gulf Coast Showcase against Arkansas.
Benzan missed her first two threes, as well as three of her first four attempts, but she kept shooting. She ended up with 14 attempts, making eight en route to a career-high 28 points.
“We knew that we had to focus in and just take one possession at a time to really succeed in the end,” Benzan said.
The duo’s shooting could prove crucial for a Maryland team that has otherwise struggled to score from deep. The rest of the Terps have combined to make just six threes this year, shooting a meager 27.3 percent.
However, as long as one of the two of them is on the floor, the Terps will have space inside for finishers such as Owusu, Angel Reese and Diamond Miller.
“It definitely just opens up the offense because of the way they shoot the three,” head coach Brenda Frese said.
Those interior players understand the value of that space, too. Owusu got to the rim to either finish or find an open shooter several times over the weekend.
“Having the two shooters on the wing helps open up the floor for me a lot,” Owusu said. “I’m more of a ‘drive and get to the basket.’”
The offensive impact of the improved spacing Benzan and Bibby provide is apparent in the early numbers. So far this season, the Terps are averaging 93.7 points per game and shooting a scorching 53.5 percent on two-point attempts.
Bibby and Benzan are also adding a veteran presence to an otherwise young Maryland squad. On a team with seven underclassmen, their place as seniors has thrust them into a leadership role.
“Katie and Chloe [have] done it at the highest level,” Frese said. “They’ve had to make tremendous plays for their team and in each of their programs that they came from.”
Just three games in, their leadership has already proved necessary. When Maryland blew an 11-point lead to Missouri State for its first loss of the season, Frese attributed the loss to the team’s inexperience.
A day later, the Terps also appeared to be letting a double-digit lead slip away. Leading by 28 at the start of the fourth quarter, Maryland missed its first eight shots of the period. But this time, the team was able to hold on and secure the win, helped by two key threes by Benzan.
“Having that calming influence by your veteran play is huge,” Frese said. “They’ve been in big moments and really stay the course for us in this game.”
Bibby is aware that her experience is going to be valuable in calming her younger teammates.
And she knows the next time she catches a pass on the wing, she’s going to fire away.
“It’s just trying to keep everyone cool, because we’re pretty young, so we get very excited very quick,” she said. “So it’s keeping everybody, their heads, cool and … focused in the game so we don’t get too emotional. Because that’s our biggest thing right now.”