Maryland women’s basketball has successfully filled the void left by Angel Reese’s injury

Angel Reese contests a shot during Maryland's 112-78 win over Towson on Dec. 3, 2020, at Xfinity Center. Reese left the game soon after with a foot fracture. (Eric Harkleroad/The Diamondback)

When Angel Reese fractured her right foot over a month ago, Maryland women’s basketball knew they were facing a tough stretch. The Terps had a daunting Big Ten schedule with difficult matchups on the horizon, and now had to do it without Reese, the No. 2 recruit in the country.

The freshman averaged 17 points and 8.7 rebounds in the first three games before exiting after playing just three minutes against Towson. In the days after the injury, coach Brenda Frese had a simple message to her team.

“No one’s gonna be able to replace Angel and have to do it by themselves,” Frese said. “It’s really by committee, asking every player to step up and add two more points and one more rebound to be able to help us with what she was able to give to the team.”

[Maryland women’s basketball fights off late run, beats Michigan State 93-87]

So far, so good. Maryland has played five games since Reese’s injury. In those games, all wins, it has defeated four conference opponents and two ranked teams. The Terps have done so without Reese by mitigating her loss in the aggregate.

Ashley Owusu has been instrumental in that effort. Last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year came into this season with high expectations, but started slow in her first three games — posting 12 points per contest. It’s been a different story since. In her last six games, Owusu has averaged 22.2 points, including a career-high 34 points against Penn State.

“I just love that place she’s in,” Frese said after the 34-point game. “Really since the Rutgers game, I mean she understands just what she brings to the table for this team and when she’s attacking and being aggressive and making plays for teammates, we’re a totally different team.”

Another player who’s stepped up in Reese’s absence is Mimi Collins. The redshirt sophomore has started the last four games and has offered valuable consistency. After averaging eight points in the first three games of the season, Collins has thrived in her expanded role, averaging 12.2 points since, including a 22-point outburst against Rutgers.

“It’s just me being so versatile and [coach] understanding how versatile I am,” Collins said after the Rutgers game.

Forward Chloe Bibby has also been a consistent starter. While known primarily for her long-distance marksmanship, Bibby has been a key rebounder for the Terps, averaging 7.3 rebounds in her last six games.

“We all know it was a big loss when Angel went down, but I think everyone was able to pick up the little pieces where they could,” Bibby said. “Whether that’s getting their O-board and a putback here or there, or boxing out … I think it’s really been a team effort.”

[Maryland women’s basketball hopes to learn from hectic final minute against Indiana]

Bibby had a solid defensive performance in the Terps’ win over Michigan State Thursday, recording a season-high three blocks. That’s another area where Reese had been dominating, registering six blocks in three games, a mark that ranks second on the team, only after Diamond Miller.

Maryland will need those contributions to continue. The Big Ten isn’t getting any less competitive, and Reese is only expected to return near the end of the regular season at the earliest. And with a feisty Purdue team coming to College Park Sunday, it’ll be up to the aggregate to make up for her absence.

“We’re just trying to do different things to make us a championship team, and it’s an effort that has to be put forth every day,” Bibby said.

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