Maryland routs Michigan on the road, other Big Ten notes

COLLEGE PARK, MD - JANUARY 06: Kaila Charles #5 and Blair Watson #22 of the Maryland Terrapins celebrate a shot during a women's college basketball game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Xfinity Center on January 6, 2020 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - JANUARY 06: Kaila Charles #5 and Blair Watson #22 of the Maryland Terrapins celebrate a shot during a women's college basketball game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Xfinity Center on January 6, 2020 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Maryland claims first Power Five road win.

ANN ARBOR, MI — No. 17 Maryland arrived at the Crisler Center and throttled No. 24 Michigan on their home floor, 77-49, in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN2.

The Terps got off to a strong start on Sunday afternoon and never looked back, leading 21-12 after the first quarter and eventually by 16 at halftime. Maryland received 20 points from senior Blair Watson, who connected on six of 10 attempts from three-point range. Freshman Ashley Owusu also contributed 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting.

The Terrapins improved to 12-4 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play, while the Wolverines dropped their second consecutive conference game to fall to 11-5 and 2-3 in the conference. Here are the main takeaways from the one-sided affair in Ann Arbor:

Maryland finally has a signature ‘W’

More from Big Ten Conference

A 28-point road win against the 24th-ranked team in the country is just what the doctor ordered for the Terps, who picked up their first victory away from home in Big Ten play. Maryland had previously suffered a 23-point loss to Northwestern on New Years Eve and a 66-61 setback at Iowa on Thursday and was searching for its first “signature” win of the season. Brenda Frese’s team earned just that by holding the Wolverines to 34% shooting while forcing 22 turnovers, a stellar defensive effort against a Michigan team that averaged 85.5 points over its last two home games.

“It starts at the head with Blair, she sets the tone for us defensively,” said Frese after the game. “I thought all five were connected to be able to really be aggressive and turn them into a lot of turnovers. I thought that intensity was a huge difference for us within this game.”

There was never a doubt in this one, as the Terps overcame an 0-for-5 shooting start to the game to finish the first quarter 10-for-19 and ahead by nine. They led by as many as 18 in the second quarter and never by less than 15 for the rest of the game.

This result is undoubtedly a confidence-booster for Maryland, which began the season ranked fourth in the AP poll but entered the game at 17, its lowest ranking of the season. The Terps had previously lost to South Carolina at home and NC State on the road in addition to the two conference losses.

“I thought they just took great ownership of how hard it is to win on the road and came out ready to fight and that’s what you want to be able to see from your team,” Frese said.

Maryland returns home to host Nebraska on Thursday.

Terps’ depth on display, led by Blair Watson

Senior Blair Watson was outstanding in Sunday’s victory in Michigan, pouring in 20 points on an efficient 7-for-13 from the field including 6-for-10 from behind the arc. The Wolverines typically employ a pressure defense out of timeouts when they’re trailing, and successfully implemented this strategy to rally against Syracuse earlier in the season. On Sunday, the Terrapins were able to crack the pressure with ease, and never allowed the Wolverines to build momentum from their defense.

“We went over it in practice, that they go to a 1-3-1… trying to stay in the gaps,” Watson said. “We started falling off of that, took the energy out of the gym and took it for us and just rolled with it.”

Senior and Preseason Conference Player of the Year Kaila Charles scored 51 points in the two games leading into the one in Michigan, but was held to just four points on Sunday on 1-for-6 shooting. However, Maryland’s depth was fully on display as freshmen Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller picked up the slack by posting 18 and 15 points, respectively. Miller came just two points shy of tying her early career high which she set against Quinnipiac in November.

Owusu had started the first 14 games of the season, but came off the bench on Sunday for the second straight contest. In response, the guard produced her ninth double-figure scoring effort of the year.

“I think the depth off of our bench was critical, so when you look at with Ashley and Diamond, those are the minutes I would’ve been searching for,” said Frese. “Really excited to see how well they were able to play for us off the bench.”

Not Michigan’s night, but they’ll stay the course

Coach Kim Barnes Arico acknowledged that the Wolverines had to fight off a “high” after picking up an emotional win against Michigan State last Sunday. Since the victory, Michigan has gone 0-2 with a 78-69 road loss to Ohio State preceding the result against Maryland.

“One of the important things that we talked about… is don’t get too high or don’t get too low,” said Barnes Arico. “Don’t let today knock you out of the water and after last week’s win, don’t be on top of the world thinking we’re national champs. Stay the course and really buy into the process… today was a tough one.”

Not much went right for the home team on Sunday — they were outshot 48% to 20% from three point range, allowed 22 points off turnovers and got outscored by 24 in bench points. This up-and-down nature is a testament to the level of competitiveness in the 2019-20 Big Ten, which has already presented difficulties to the 2-3 Wolverines.

“I’ve been in the league for eight seasons now and every year I say it’s getting better and better, but this is arguably the best that it’s ever been,” Barnes Arico said. “From top to bottom, the league is tremendous and we’ve played a bunch of great times already and it’s a grind… but the champions are those that can push through.”

Michigan now has two straight road games to grapple with, beginning with Thursday at Wisconsin.

Other notable league scores

Iowa 91, Indiana 85 (2OT) — In one of the premiere matchups of the early Big Ten season, it took 50 minutes for Iowa to upset the 12th-ranked Hoosiers at home for their 30th consecutive victory at Carver Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes improved to 13-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play.

Senior Kathleen Doyle poured in 31 points in the victory and was joined by three other double-figure scorers. Doyle is averaging over 18 points per game this season, a career high and over a six-point per game improvement from a season ago. Coach Lisa Bluder called Doyle the “pulse of our team” on a conference call Friday, and credited her for embracing a larger role on this year’s roster.

“She’s the one that makes things happen for us when we need things to happen,” Bluder said. “I just think the team is confident with her on the court.”

Indiana was previously the only undefeated team in Big Ten play, but drops to 14-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference.

Rutgers 69, Nebraska 65  Rutgers moved into a tie atop the conference standings by claiming its third straight conference win, this one in a battle of previously 13-2, 3-1 teams. The Scarlet Knights now boast the best overall record in the conference at 14-2.

The Huskers opened the game on a 9-0 run before Rutgers countered with an 11-0 response, and the teams exchanged runs for the remainder of the affair before the Knights pulled it out.

For Rutgers, graduate student Khadaizha Sanders tied a career-high with 17 points and redshirt junior Arella Guirantes added 16. For Nebraska, sophomore Ashtyn Veerbeek tied a season-high with 14 points.

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