The Terps have separated themselves from much of the Big Ten field
MADISON, WI — The Maryland Terrapins (23-4, 14-2 Big Ten) continued their dominant streak with an 85-56 drubbing of the Wisconsin Badgers (11-16, 3-13 Big Ten).
It wasn’t a surprise that the Terrapins, ranked No. 7 in the country, rolled over the struggling Badgers. But the game encapsulated what makes Maryland a lethal squad heading into March.
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The great offenses of college ball are synonymous with fluid ball movement and easy layups. They’re fun to watch because they make basketball look so natural. Make no mistake: Maryland’s offense, especially during this winning streak, feels about as natural as any offense in the country.
“On any given night you can see that we’re able to expose wherever we can against the defense,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said after the game. “When you have so many weapons, both inside and outside, that’s where you want to be as you’re building towards March.”
The Terps are averaging 82.9 points per game—fifth in the country—and are top 25 in the nation in field-goal percentage, 2-point percentage and 3-point percentage, per Her Hoop Stats. Against the Badgers, Maryland scored 56 points in the paint and only turned the ball over nine times.
The Terps stretched Wisconsin’s defense out with quick passes and opportunistic cuts, chasing down offensive rebounds and capitalizing on second-chance opportunities. Kaila Charles led the team with 16 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Unlike elite offense, great defenses are stressful and ugly—they disrupts ball movement with double teams, tie ups and deflections. Where scoring can seem inevitable, defense feels entirely unnatural, unwelcome and intrusive.
Maryland, for their part, has molded themselves into one of the most intrusive teams in the country. The Terps turned over the Badgers 13 times in the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game and Wisconsin only got 10 shots off the entire period. Maryland is third in the country in steals per game and second in steal rate, per Her Hoop Stats.
“They’re a long team and they’re very aggressive,” junior Wisconsin guard Niya Beverley said. “I think they pride themselves on their press and getting up on people and playing hard.”
Wisconsin, like many teams this season, struggled to handle Maryland’s 1-2-2 full-court trap and fluid defensive schemes. Even when Wisconsin managed to get into the front court, Maryland forced the Badgers into difficult, contested shots.
“We spent a lot of the first half on one side of the floor,” Wisconsin head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “And Maryland is very good then at loading up. When you did post feed on one side it felt like there were two and three people around.”
Even though Wisconsin picked things up in the second half and played up to Maryland’s level, the damage was already done. The Terrapins don’t have to win every quarter because their defense stifles offenses enough to make a comeback impossible. Maryland has outscored teams 488-327 in the first half during their win streak, with only Indiana (20-7, 10-5 Big Ten) and Northwestern (23-3, 13-2 Big Ten) coming out on top after two quarters.
Frese has transformed Maryland since their two losses against Northwestern and Iowa earlier this year. The result is a team that’s clicking at just the right time with the Big Ten tournament only two weeks away and the Big Dance just around the corner.
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