The Terps arrived back in College Park around 4 a.m. after losing 96-82 to the Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Feb. 2, but they didn’t go to sleep. Instead, players including Faith Masonius and Diamond Miller stayed up to watch the game they had just lost.
“[We] had a bitter taste in our mouths,” Masonius said. “I know it was a late night, but honestly I was like, I can’t go to sleep before watching this game.”
On Tuesday night, the late-night film session paid off as No. 7 Maryland women’s basketball (23-5, 14-3 Big Ten) toppled No. 6 Iowa (22-6, 14-3 Big Ten) at the Xfinity Center, 96-68. The Terps used a second quarter in which they outscored the Hawkeyes 27-8 to take a commanding lead that they never surrendered.
Maryland held Iowa to a season-low in points and notched more points than any Hawkeyes opponent this season.
“The first time we played them, we knew we laid an egg and we knew we didn’t play to the best of our abilities,” Miller said. “This game, we definitely wanted to play a full 40 minutes, and I think we did that.”
Coach Brenda Frese’s squad came out with an aggressive defense that caused seven first-quarter turnovers, allowing Maryland to create opportunities of its own.
After a bad pass from Clark, Shyanne Sellers scooped up the ball and handed it off to Miller. Miller’s shot missed, but Lavender Briggs was there for the second-chance basket, one of two field goals the Terps made off turnovers.
While the Terps weren’t able to score on every turnover, their takeaways limited the Hawkeyes’ shooting attempts and kept the game close. They finished the first quarter down 20-19.
Maryland’s defense paved the way for an offensive outburst in the second quarter. The Terps forced a Hawkeye scoring drought of more than three minutes by limiting open looks for top contributors Clark and Monika Czinano.
Clark finished the game with 18 points, her second fewest this season.
On the opposite end, strong three-point shooting paved the way for Maryland’s lead to stretch as large as 20 points. After failing to make more than one three-pointer in a game the past month, Brinae Alexander made four three-pointers in just the second quarter, finishing the first half with a game-high 16 points.
Increased output from Alexander and Briggs, who finished the opening 20 minutes with 10 points, was crucial to the Terps’ scoring with Miller sitting on the bench after collecting her second foul.
Briggs and Alexander both finished the game with season-highs, with Alexander scoring 24 points and Briggs notching 19.
“[Alexander and Briggs’ points] absolutely was the X-factor, it was the reason why we dominated this game,” Frese said. “Those two were pretty special for us tonight.”
Despite just two first-half points from Miller, Maryland’s leading scorer, a 29-4 run that encompassed the end of the first quarter and most of the second quarter powered Frese’s squad to a 46-28 lead at halftime.
The Terps allowed fewer points in the entire first half than the team allowed in the first quarter in their previous matchup and held the Hawkeyes’ to a measly eight-point second quarter, the least they’ve scored in a frame this season.
Alexander’s three-point shooting continued to shine in the third quarter. After making her fifth shot from deep on the day, Alexander found another opportunity.
When other players scrambled to nab the ball when it fell to the floor, Alexander positioned herself behind the arc. She received a pass from Sellers and made her sixth three-pointer of the game on just her eighth attempt. Alexander finished 6-for-9 from deep on the day.
Maryland continued to pull away in the third quarter and built upon Iowa’s largest deficit of the season, previously set with the Hawkeyes trailing by 15 points against NC State earlier this year, as the Terps finished the frame up 73-49.
Despite its large lead, Maryland never took its foot off the gas.
The Terps outscored the Hawkeyes in the second, third and fourth quarters en route to a 28-point victory, their fifth win in a row ahead of their final regular season game Friday.
“I just love being here. I love playing for this team,” Alexander said. “We’re still playing with a chip on our shoulder because I feel like a lot of people have underestimated us as a team this whole year pretty much, but I’m just ready to play these next games.”