Reese had plenty to celebrate Tuesday as the No. 8 Terps, led by a record-breaking performance from Katie Benzan, put on an offensive show at Xfinity Center. Benzan, a diminutive 5-foot-6 senior, set a program single-game record with nine three-pointers as the Terps never trailed in a 111-93 win over Iowa.
The 111 points marked the fifth time Maryland has surpassed 100 points this season. The two teams combined to hit 32 three-pointers, the most in a Division I game this season.
“Man, that first half was like a game I’ve never seen before,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “Our staff was honestly stunned at halftime. We didn’t tell the girls that. I’ve never been part of a game like that. I can’t wait to go back and watch the game.
“The unselfishness — I think we had two turnovers at halftime. They just make so many easy plays for one another. Playing the game the right way. It had to be fun to be able to watch.”
The victory was the sixth in a row for Maryland (17-2, 13-1 Big Ten), but the icing on the cake came when the public address announcer declared with 3:26 left in the first quarter that Reese was entering the game. Thus the rich got richer as the No. 1 scoring team in the nation, on pace to break the program points-per-game record, added the No. 2 recruit in the country two weeks from the start of the postseason.
Maryland put on an offensive display during a 41-point first quarter, using a 19-3 run, including six three-pointers, to take a 27-9 lead. Three of those triples came off the picturesque release of Benzan, who tied the program record with eight three-pointers against Arkansas on Nov. 29. She was 5 for 5 from behind the arc in the first quarter and tied her own record before halftime with an 8-for-9 effort. The Terps led 68-51 at the break.
“At halftime, when my teammates were just amazed, I guess,” Benzan said when asked when she realized she was hot. “I can’t put it in words. I just read the defense and today they played a zone, which opened the three-point line for all of us. The shots just went down, and we play with such a great point guard in Ash [Ashley Owusu], who finds the open person every single time.”
Benzan snatched the record with her ninth three of the day in the fourth quarter when Owusu kicked the ball out to the left corner, Benzan pump-faked a defender, took one dribble to the right and let if fly. Nothing but net to reach a career-high 29 points.
As impressive as Benzan’s shooting display was, she was far from the only Terrapin who had a day to remember. Owusu may have had the quietest 24 points and 12 assists possible. While all eyes were on Benzan and Diamond Miller, whose 27 points were one shy of a career high, Owusu simply ran the offense and took what was given. She was an efficient 10 for 15 from the field, and her 12 assists were a career high. Miller actually set the tone for the day with back-to-back three-pointers to open the game and finished 4 for 5 from behind the arc.
“Just finding my teammates when they’re open and, also, noticing who has the hot hand,” Owusu said. “Katie, she was on today. So just recognizing the defense and finding her when she was open, and also other teammates.”
Maryland shot 61.2 percent from the field and 68.2 percent from three-point range. The Hawkeyes (12-7, 8-7) shot 55.6 percent from the field and 51.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The game was expected to have some fireworks, with the top two scoring offenses in the nation facing off for the first time this season. The Terrapins were too much as an entire squad, but Iowa’s Caitlin Clark showed why Frese called her the best freshman in the country. Clark scored 34 points and was 9 for 16 from behind the arc to go with seven assists. It was her fifth straight 30-point game.
Reese played just under 13 minutes and finished with eight points on 2-for-2 shooting. Her first field goal came on a reverse layup off a pretty dish from Owusu.
Frese said Monday was the first full-contact practice for Reese, a 6-3 freshman forward, and X-rays show the bone has completely healed. She started the first four games of the season before going down and probably will be worked back in gradually; Frese just wanted to “test the waters” Tuesday.
Maryland travels to face Purdue on Thursday and has just three games remaining before the regular season concludes.