Katie Benzan caught the cross-court pass midway through the second quarter. She pump-faked, sending the defender flying, before stepping and resettling to her right before firing a three that dropped in.
Her barrage of triples started nearly from the opening tip. In the first quarter alone, Benzan made all five of her three-point attempts. In the second she added three more, giving her 24 first half points.
She tied the program record for threes in a game, one she set earlier this year, in the first half and broke it with a fourth quarter splash.
Her performance was part of an offensive barrage from both teams. But in a battle of the two best offenses in the nation, Maryland women’s basketball came out victorious in a 111-93 win over Iowa.
“Maryland has exceeded my expectations, and so scoring 100 is just a testament to playing with five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 great players,” Benzan said. “Like [Ashley Owusu] says, we all are threats on the court so it’s going to be hard to defend us.”
One of Benzan’s more audacious threes came as she held the ball near the right key. Standing well behind the three-point line, a Hawkeye defender sagged off her just enough.
And Benzan took advantage of the slip-up. She casually crossed over before stepping into a shot that, for her, is a warmup.
“I just read the defense, and today they played a zone, which opened up the three-point line for all of us,” Benzan said. “The shots just went down.”
Maryland set a program record for most points in a quarter with 41 right out of the gate. The Terps made 12 of their 16 threes in the first half and shot 61.2 percent from the field overall in a thrilling offensive performance.
Iowa’s attack, explosive in its own right, could not keep up, but superstar freshman guard Caitlin Clark did her best to keep the Hawkeyes in the contest. She scored 34 points and matched Benzan with nine threes. One of those triples banked in while Clark was falling down in front of coach Brenda Frese and the Terps’ bench.
“I mean it was a tough play, I thought we defended it well,” Frese said. “I love going against her as long as we get the win.”
And Maryland brought its own highly touted freshman back. Guard/forward Angel Reese made her return to the court after a foot fracture sidelined her for 11 weeks.
She played 12 minutes and finished with eight points, three rebounds and one resounding block in her first game since Dec. 3.
“I thought she was huge,” Frese said. “I thought her energy was great.”
The Terps’ sophomore duo of Owusu and Diamond Miller also impressed, combining for 51 points. Miller scored 27 points and made four threes, including on the first possession of the game from the right wing.
With all the threes being launched in the game, Owusu’s methodical performance went under the radar. Still, she notched a double-double with 24 points and 12 assists.
Early in the third quarter, she drove to her left with a pair of Iowa defenders reaching in to pry the ball free. Owusu’s vice-like grip never wavered as she powered through the defense and flipped up a shot, losing her balance as she was fouled.
The ball kissed the backboard before dropping in as Owusu stumbled and slid backwards.
“I just created my shot, not only for myself also for my teammates,” Owusu said. “So when they collapse on me, people are open, and when they flare out to the outside I’m open. So just recognizing the defense and taking the biggest thing.”
In the fourth quarter, Iowa put a small scare into Maryland with a quick 8-0 run to cut the lead to 14. After a timeout, the Terps responded, first with the record-breaking three from Benzan and then a quick steal-and-score by Miller.
It was a rapid series of buckets that put the game out of reach in a memorable shootout that displayed the seemingly unlimited prowess of the Maryland offense.
“Our staff was honestly stunned at halftime,” Frese said. “We didn’t tell the girls that but I’ve never been a part of a game like that.”