Angel Reese stood over Sierra DaCosta, her 6-foot-3 frame casting a shadow that loomed over the fallen UNC Wilmington player. Reese had just blocked DaCosta’s attempted layup, swatting the shot with such emphasis that it bounced up and over the first row of seats and into the stands.
She continued to glare at the Seahawk guard, seemingly offended that she’d even try to score in her domain until the whistle sounded and the referee called her for a technical foul.
“I knew I was going to get a tech,” Reese said. “I didn’t say what I’d usually say, I just said ‘gimme that.’ ”
That technical was the only misstep for the Terps’ forward as she controlled the interior throughout Thursday night’s Maryland women’s basketball 108-66 win over UNC Wilmington. It’s the first time the Terps have scored over 100 points all season.
Reese scored 23 points and added 12 rebounds for her third straight double-double. The sophomore becomes the first Terp with three straight double-doubles since Brionna Jones in 2017. She was a defensive menace, finishing with five steals and two blocks.
“I had five steals, let’s talk about that. You always talk about my offense but defense, I mean I got five steals,” Reese said. “We’re emphasizing defense this year and if I can lead the pack and have my girls follow me then that’s what we can do.”
The storyline at the game’s offset was the return of Diamond Miller, who played her first four minutes of the season in the opening quarter. She would exit right before the quarter ended and wouldn’t re-enter the rest of the evening. The plan was always for her to sit out for the second half, the team said.
Reese, whose place in the starting lineup was partly due to Diamond’s injury, harassed Wilmington’s guards the entire game, even before they’d crossed midcourt. She counted to five as she guarded an inbounds pass, getting the referee to call a violation and force a turnover in the process.
She became a willing and adept passer, catching the ball in the post late in the third quarter before whipping a no-look feed to a cutting Mimi Collins for a layup. Reese made eyeglasses with her hands when she ran down the court signifying her court vision. She finished with three assists in the game.
Her frontcourt mate and one-time challenger for a starting spot, Mimi Collins, nearly notched her own double-double, finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds, four of which came on the offensive glass.
“We have a name for ourselves too,” Collins said. “You got Angel Reese and you got Mimi Collins… Maryland matters too, say the Maryland name as well.”
Katie Benzan added 22 points, making six three-pointers and finishing the game 9-of-16 from the floor. The graduate senior scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, making three of her five three-point attempts in the frame and adding a pair of assists.
“When the ball goes down, that’s contagious,” Benzan said. “Everyone’s shots [were] going down, so that was just a great feeling overall.”
The Seahawks were Maryland’s final tuneup opponent, as its next three games feature top-10 opponents in No. 6 Baylor, No. 5 NC State, and No. 3 Stanford. In those games, Reese will be matched up with established stars like seniors forward NaLyssa Smith with the Bears and Elissa Cunane of the Wolfpack.
Despite those challenges ahead, the Terps will go into those games knowing they have the interior talent to match their opponents, mainly because of one huge development.
Angel Reese has become the player so many expected her to be when she committed to play for Brenda Frese. After a foot injury in a disjointed freshman year, she casts looming shadows over all who step on the court against her.
“Just playing the Maryland standard,” Reese said. “Of course bigger better players that we’re gonna have to face up but [for] big guards we’re ready.”