Ashley Owusu stands up for a shot during Maryland’s 101-59 win over James Madison in December. 19, 2020, at the Xfinity Center. (Julia Nikhinson / The Diamondback)
Katie Benzan had just over seven minutes to take corner three in the first quarter against Penn State, but it wasn’t like many of the others she’s taken this season. Instead of tickling the string on the way down to get a smooth trifecta of points, this one missed.
It was a regular sight for Benzan and the rest of the Maryland women’s basketball team on Thursday, who shot just 4:19 from the deep in their conference game against Penn State.
That atypical feat for one of the Big Ten’s most productive three-point shooting teams could have resulted in a disgruntled win for the Nittany Lions, but the Terps emerged with a 96-82 win and demonstrated one crucial skill: the ability to do in various ways win.
« I think it’s the hallmark of a great team when you take to the streets and you can’t play your best game and win, » said coach Brenda Frese.
While Frese’s squad gets into the heat of the conference schedule, he hopes to be able to shoot better after a long vacation break. Maryland will also try to see what it can replicate from the Penn State game in the future.
Some of last week’s games could be difficult to repeat. Ashley Owusu reached a career height of 34 points and went 15-on-22 off the floor. The second guard hit from everywhere, but was particularly effective in the central area. He got up regularly and effortlessly sank long pull-ups for two.
But the Terps can’t count on a career like this every game. Instead, the team likely needs to delve into its depth of valuation. In seven games this season there were five different top scorer and at least four players in the double digits in each competition. That depth led the Terps to the Big Ten’s best offense.
While Maryland has overcome its shooting deficiencies with Owusu’s goal breakout, it has also shown one of its strongest defensive efforts of the season. The Terps drove 19 sales, including a season high of 13 steals. Maryland scored 24 points on those errors at Penn State, making the terps rampant by 33 fast-break points in transition.
« We wanted to push it as far as possible in the transition, » said Frese. « You are a great transition team. We wanted to put a lot of pressure on them on the defensive. « . ”
In its perfect world, Maryland would continue to shoot over 40 percent from a distance and use its sniper skills to thrive offensively and get double digit blowouts. But in a highly competitive Big Ten, this almost certainly won’t be the case.
There could be many games where the terps shoot poorly if the ball doesn’t fall smoothly through the net, if Benzan and her teammates get cold behind the arch. If these games happen at the wrong time and Maryland does not have a backlash, it can cause problems.
Whether the Terps can develop this counterattack further remains to be seen, but they have the best opportunity on Monday to prove themselves against a senior Indiana squad looking to cause a stir in College Park.
« Our game at Penn State really is a testament to our mental toughness, » said striker Chloe Bibby. « We don’t put down shots from outside the arc so let’s go in and really disrupt them in defense and get a bucket the other way. « . … We’re just trying to do different things to make ourselves a championship team. ”
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