Mimi Collins replicated what Villanova had done to end the first quarter by hitting a mid-range jumper as time expired in the first half. The bucket came at the tail end of an 8-2 run from Maryland women’s basketball and was a preview of what the second half would hold.
After splitting the score on each team’s first two possessions, the Terps rattled off a monstrous run that was brewing for some time.
“I thought they were really aggressive attacking off the bounce and being able to draw fouls,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Ashley drew six, Mimi drew four, Angel three, so I thought they did a really good job being aggressive and active.”
While Villanova did its best to stave off Maryland’s merciless offense, the third quarter unearthed the scoring barrage the Terps were searching for. A 20-0 run put the game completely out of reach as Maryland coasted to a 88-67 victory behind double-digit outputs from all five of its starters.
“I think it speaks volumes of this team and their unselfishness and really wanting to make the right play,” Frese said. “The first half we were able to play a lot through Angel and Ashley and we knew they’d have to adjust and I thought they did a great job of kind of facilitating some of that in the second half.”
From the opening tip, Villanova did not back down against the highly-ranked Terps.
With the focus being on containing Maddy Siegrist — the Big East’s leading scorer from last season — Maryland’s defense let up a triage of three-pointers in the opening five minutes. Those early defensive woes kept the game close as the first quarter media timeout hit with the Wildcats trailing by one.
Angel Reese’s nine early points helped keep the Terps in front, but a buzzer-beating three from Lior Garzon made it a 21-20 game in favor of the home team heading into the second quarter. Reese streaked out to a team-high 23 points and she clocked five boards to round out her dominant performance.
“I just let the game come to me,” Reese said. “My teammates were feeding me the ball and [I was] doing a great job finishing. I couldn’t get that many rebounds today because I did a really good job finishing.”
After ceding a key momentum boost to end the quarter, Maryland’s defense began to strengthen.
Frese’s squad stifled Villanova’s offense for much of the quarter. A 4:17 scoring drought for the Wildcats was accompanied by 10 consecutive points for the Terps, giving them a seemingly insurmountable lead.
But the relentless Wildcats pieced together an 8-2 run towards the latter end of the quarter to bring themselves to a single-digit deficit once again. Frese stomped her foot in frustration for the lackadaisical effort, segueing into a 30-second timeout with 1:51 on the clock.
Ashley Owusu emerged from the timeout with a tough finish at the rim, starting a two-minute stretch executed to perfection by the Terps. The 8-2 run to end the half was just what Maryland needed to snatch back the momentum, entering halftime up 47-33.
The offensive floodgates burst in the third quarter. Villanova was able to collect two buckets to kick off the second half, but Maryland embarked on a 20-0 run afterward.
A raucous three-pointer from Chloe Bibby — one that secured the second-year Terp her 1,000th career point — forced the Wildcats into a timeout at the 5:44 mark.
“I knew I was getting there, but I didn’t know when,” Bibby said. “That’s just a credit to my teammates that they’re finding me when I’m open.”
But even that couldn’t stop the Terps from scoring nine more before Lucy Olsen finally stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer after nearly six scoreless minutes.
By the time the drought was over, all the Wildcats could do was hang their heads as the mountain to climb sat at a daunting 29 points.
Villanova fought to keep the game competitive in the fourth quarter, but it was completely overwhelmed in the paint as Maryland maintained its significant advantage. Another stellar outing from Reese led the way as the Terps exuded their textbook dominance in non-conference play once again.