Michigan couldn’t keep control of the basketball, and Maryland women’s basketball was happy to capitalize. The Wolverines turned the ball over six times in just more than four minutes in the first quarter.
The Terps took advantage of those blunders and finished the quarter with a 13-2 run in those four minutes. The stretch helped them defeat No. 13 Michigan 72-64 Thursday.
“When you look at who we are, the length and the athleticism that we have has really obviously made a big difference,” coach Brenda Frese said about the turnovers her team forced.
While Michigan was able to out-rebound Maryland 34-31, its possessions were limited by its turnovers, the third most forced by the Terps this season. Frese’s squad turned its defense into offense with 25 points off of the Wolverines’ slip-ups.
That’s been a theme this season for Maryland. The Terps’ ability to cause those giveaways has helped them emerge victorious in many of their games this season, Frese said. Her team uses the forced turnovers to overcome rebounding deficiencies.
“It’s a big piece of our identity,” Frese said. “We are undersized, but that doesn’t really matter to us because we can dictate on the defensive end in other ways.”
Maryland forces an average of 19.5 turnovers per game and scores an average of 19.5 points off turnovers this season. In comparison, Frese’s team only turns the ball over an average of 12.9 times per game and holds its opponents to less than 10 points per game off those miscues.
Since moving into conference play, the Terps have improved those numbers. In their 10 conference games so far this year, they’ve averaged 20.8 opponent turnovers and have the best turnover margin in the Big Ten.
One of the ways the team works to force turnovers is by making their opponents throw lob passes, Faith Masonius said.
“Just honestly, looking at personnel and knowing the tendencies of the guards, what they want to do,” she said.
More than half of those turnovers come from Maryland steals. The team averages 10.9 per game in conference play, the second-highest rate in the Big Ten.
But the Terps will face a challenge against Penn State Monday. The Nittany Lions average the most forced turnovers in conference play, edging out the Terps by 0.2. They also lead the conference with 12.6 steals per game.
To combat Penn State’s aggressiveness, Frese wants her team to “value the basketball.”
“It’s going to just be really important for us to just all be on the same page and really valuing the basketball in this game,” she said.