Maryland unites for 87-69 win over Nebraska

Terps top the Huskers

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland head coach Brenda Frese has a history of laying big responsibilities on young players. She has faith that her young Terps can harden their shells in times of pressure. Freshman guards Diamond Miller and Ashley Owusu blended right into Frese’s plan against Nebraska Thursday night, helping Maryland (13-4,4-2 Big Ten) defeat the Cornhuskers 87-69, extending their home win streak to six.

“Both the play from Diamond and Ashley have helped us take a step forward,” Frese said. “Continuously getting that consistency and energy from them off the bench has been huge for us.”

Six Terps average double-digit scoring but opponents stymy Maryland’s three-point threat. In their four losses, Maryland combined for 23-of-75 from three-point range. Their Jan. 9 loss to Iowa was the worst outing, 8-for-22.

The Terps’ presence in the paint benefits the most from their defense. They catch opponents in full court, zone defense, trapping them before offensive sets can solidify. Maryland’s agitating defense silenced Nebraska for the final three minutes of the first quarter.

“Their half-court defense was even more pressure than what we were expecting and ready to handle.” Nebraska head coach Amy Williams said.

Maryland found its first three-pointer in Miller. Nebraska picked up the pace to match Maryland’s 17 points in the second quarter while Maryland’s 0-4 three point attempts and six turnovers muddied the momentum. Maryland’s outstanding first quarter helped the Terps go into halftime with a 43-34 lead.

Sophomore forward Shakira Austin attacked the glass while senior forward Stephanie Jones reaped the benefits, scoring 14 points behind her mid-range jumper and going 7-of-12 on the night. Maryland found 46 points in the paint as the duo directed Nebraska’s attention while defending the glass.

“[Austin] is able to draw so much attention down low,” Jones said. “So, playing off her, being able to dive and cut and grab rebounds is really fun.”

Owusu quietly poured in 16 points with four assists, attacking after Austin and Jones’ defense opened opportunities. Miller finished with 13 points, including finishing 2-of-4 from three-point range.

“I think [the game] is slowing down,” Miller said. “Freshman year, there’s a lot of ups and downs and I’m just going to take it one game at a time.”

As the freshman duo combined for 29 points, senior guard Kaila Charles led Maryland with 23 points and seven rebounds. Even with their three-point woes, Frese is reluctant to steer Charles away from her inside offense for a late opportunity to improve her shot selection. She was the leading scorer in four of the last five games.

“Of course, I want to expand my game in all aspects, but I just read the defense,” Charles said. “I’m going to my strengths and it’s been working. If the opportunity presents itself, I’ll take it.”

Full zone trap defenses led to a total of 20 Cornhusker turnovers and 29 points for the Terps. In the win, they still went a dismal 4-of-16 beyond the arc. They found most of their opportunities in their 15-point fast break. Four players scored in double figures.

Nebraska also has trouble beyond the arc. They are without junior guard Taylor Kissinger who was ranked fourth from three-point range during the 2018-2019 season. She’s out this year with a season-ending hip injury and surgery.

“I think our kids have done a great job of really putting in a lot of work to have several different [scoring] threats from behind the arc, and it’s been something that has been able to carry us a little bit,” Williams said.

Nebraska hosts the Michigan Sunday while Maryland returns to the Xfinity Center Martin Luther King Day to face the Indiana Hoosiers.

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