The Terps are on a five-game winning streak and have allowed just one team to surpass the 70-point mark in that stretch. Putting aside a 95-73 win at Nebraska on Feb. 14, Maryland’s other four opponents in this run averaged just 55 points.
“It separates us into an elite-level category,” Frese said. “We got some 10-second backcourt violations, which was something we showed on film last game that we thought we could have got to. So they took that, the next progression, the next step. End of quarters, we didn’t let any momentum going into quarters by getting great stops. That’s where I’m really, really excited. Now we’re playing both ends of the floor, and that’s what you’ve got to be able to have for March.”
Maryland (16-2, 12-1) has looked like the best team in the Big Ten throughout the season, but many of its early conference wins were the result of the Terps overwhelming their opponents offensively. If the game was a shootout, that favored Maryland, but the reigning Big Ten co-champions (and conference tournament champs) have higher aspirations than another league title. A deep run in the NCAA tournament will require defensive stops against top teams, and Maryland just hasn’t been tested in that area often. And this is the time of year when teams need to begin peaking, Frese said.
“I wouldn’t want to play us right now,” she said.
Maryland sophomore Ashley Owusu continued her recent stellar play with 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds. She added a steal and a block to go with what might have been the most impressive statistic for a point guard: just one turnover.
“Just staying confident and just staying poised,” she said. “Taking the open shot when I have it, but also creating for my teammates.”
Fellow sophomore guard Diamond Miller poured in 20 points, reaching that mark for the third time in five games. Katie Benzan added 17 points, Chloe Bibby reached double figures with 10 points, and Faith Masonius dished out a career-high eight assists and added six rebounds. Kadiatou Sissoko was the only player to score in double digits for the Gophers (7-11, 6-10); she had 16 points on 6-for-14 shooting.
Minnesota jumped to a 5-0 lead that Maryland followed with a dominant 18-2 run highlighted by steals off the press that resulted in layups. The Terrapins led 24-11 after the first quarter, were up 49-25 at halftime and led by at least 22 points throughout the second half.
Maryland’s stingy defense led to 13 turnovers. When the Gophers did get into their offense, they shot just 5 for 19 (26.3 percent) from three-point range.
“We’re being a lot more aggressive, understanding our speed and our length and our aggressiveness and where we can trap different areas,” Frese said. “Credit to the team as they’ve just continued to build off each other with natural traps and where we’re playing on the defensive end.”
Notes: Maryland starting forward Mimi Collins left the game in the third quarter after taking a shot to the forehead on defense. She remained on the floor for some time, holding her head, and trainers came out with towels to address a cut that required stitches. Collins headed to the locker room and never returned to the bench area. After the game, Frese said there weren’t any concussion concerns but the sophomore would continue to be evaluated. . . .
Minnesota’s second-leading scorer, sophomore guard Jasmine Powell, left late in the second quarter with a foot or ankle injury. She had to be helped off the floor and couldn’t put pressure on her left leg. She did not return to the game. . . .
The Terps host Iowa at 1 p.m. Tuesday.