When Faith Masonius caught the ball in the post in Maryland women’s basketball’s victory over Illinois, her sister Addie’s words echoed in her head.
“Faith, stop shooting turnaround jumpers. Go to the basket,” her sister had told her.
So Masonius did just that. She backed her way into the post before spinning to free herself for an open layup.
It was a rare score for Masonius, who’s usually more of a rebounder.
But the last two games have shown her value off the bench as a grinder underneath, along with a subtly improving offensive game that gives Brenda Frese another potent choice in the frontcourt.
“This year, the game has really slowed down, and I’m able to just take a breath and see what the defense is giving me and find the best option,” Masonius said.
She found the best option a litany of times in the Terps’ last win over Minnesota, where she finished with a career-high eight assists, some of which came from clever reads.
With the shot clock winding down in the second quarter, Masonius once again caught the ball in the post and looked as if she was about to turn and fade away. But at the last second, with both defenders converging on her, she flicked an artful pass to Alaysia Styles for an uncontested layup.
“It was just a nice play, honestly,” Masonius said.
While those plays are more pleasant to look at and apparent in the box score, the sophomore really shows her value when she battles down low.
“She does all those unsung hero type of plays for us,” Frese said after the Minnesota win.
It’s grimy work down in the paint, punching and pushing opponents for loose rebounds to end defensive possessions or prolong offensive opportunities, but Masonius finds joy in the muck.
“You can push somebody around. Sometimes it’s good to get your anger out,” she said. “It’s fun, because getting offensive rebounds sometimes, I think, is even more [fun] than getting the bucket.”
Those battles extend to the defensive side of the court, where Masonius plays an integral role. She’s often one of the loudest voices out there, communicating to prevent breakdowns in a much-improved Maryland defense.
“We just have a lot of different options and different plays,” she said. “So it’s really important to communicate so everybody knows what’s going on.”
And the partnership between Masonius and her backcourt pair Styles has only been getting better as the season progresses. The two have shown increased chemistry and they provide a gritty small-ball option for Frese off the bench.
“[Styles] knows her role,” Masonius said. “She knows what she needs to do and she loves to battle, so it’s fun playing with her.”
Their importance becomes magnified due to a small Maryland roster. With just nine active players, Masonius had keep developing from her freshman campaign and become a reliable rotation option.
And she’s done just that — one contested rebound at a time.
“We’re coming off the bench, we know we need to go in and impact the game positively, but it’s really just us knowing the Maryland standard,” Masonius said. “When we go in, we need to bring energy and just prepare for battle.”