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Maryland cruises past Northwestern to Big Ten women’s final; Brenda Frese named national basketball coach of year

Northwestern's Kaylah Rainey (1) goes to the basket against Maryland's Zoe Young (12) and Angel Reese (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball semifinal game at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 12, 2021, in Indianapolis. Maryland won 85-52. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Northwestern's Kaylah Rainey (1) goes to the basket against Maryland's Zoe Young (12) and Angel Reese (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball semifinal game at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 12, 2021, in Indianapolis. Maryland won 85-52. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS — Eighth-ranked Maryland showed just how deep it is.

Alaysia Styles, who was averaging four points per game, scored 15 off the bench to lead a balanced attack and Maryland routed Northwestern, 85-52, in the semifinals of the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament Friday.

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“We had a ton of fun,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “You got to have depth to play three games in three days. We showed that with six players in double figures. This team is so unselfish. They make the right play for each other. Every player could put up a lot of points every night, but we are focused on winning.”

The top-seeded Terps (23-2) will face the winner between sixth-seeded Iowa in Saturday’s championship game. The sixth-seede Hawkeyes (18-8) beat Michigan State, 87-62, in the other semifinal.

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The Maryland bench held a 36-14 edge over Northwestern.

Styles, a transfer from California, hit all seven of her shots.

“Angel Reese was telling me, ‘I’ll get out of your way so you can drive,’ " Styles said. “If they believe in me, then I believe in myself.”

Also cracking double figures for Maryland were Chloe Miller with 13 points, Ashley Owusu 12, and Faith Masonius 11. Mimi Collins and Angel Reese (St. Frances) each had 10 points for the Terps and Reese had a team-high 11 rebounds.

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Maryland shot 59% from the field and held fifth-seeded Northwestern (15-8) to 30%.

Veronica Burton had 14 points and six assists for the Wildcats and Jordan Hamilton added 10 points. Burton, a junior, topped the 1,000-point mark during the game,

Maryland used a 22-2 run, including 18 unanswered points, in the last 6:33 of the second quarter to take a 49-24 halftime advantage. The Terps made 9 of 11 shots in the second quarter while the Wildcats were 3 of 13 from the field.

“We thought Northwestern would come in very inspired after beating Michigan and I think we matched that intensity,” Frese said. “I felt we punched first and never looked back.”

The game-changing spurt came with leading scorer Owusu on the bench for the entire period. Owusu returned to score seven points in the third quarter as Maryland expanded its lead to 70-38 after three quarters.

The Terps also beat Northwestern 62-50 on the road on Feb. 28.

“We felt we owed it to them because we weren’t respected enough the first time,” Reese said. “Our defense led to offense.”

Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said his team just ran into a buzz saw.

“We played hard against Illinois and Michigan, but the Michigan game was a physical game and I just felt we ran out of gas today,” he said.

Maryland is making its seventh consecutive appearance in the Big Ten Tournament championship game, the most consecutive by either men or women. Maryland, which has been in the final every year since joining the conference. is seeking its fifth title in those seven years.

“It starts with our focus,” Frese said. “It is an incredible accomplishment.”

Reese, a freshman forward for Baltimore, notched her first career double double.

“I was just having fun with my teammates,” she said. “I had fresh legs off the bench. I do what the team needs me to do, and today it was rebounding.”

Coach of year: Maryland women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese was named National Coach of the Year by ESPN on Friday. Frese, in her 19th season at Maryland, was also voted Big Ten Coach of the Year on Monday.

Frese was named National Coach of the Year by The Associated Press in 2002, the year she was hired at Maryland.

After losing five starters from last year’s Big Ten Championship squad, Frese and her staff reloaded with five newcomers and the return of five sophomores. Frese’s Terps earned a record of 22-2 overall, 17-1 in league play and won the program’s sixth Big Ten title in seven years.

Frese’s Terps have four wins over ranked squads and have been ranked in The Associated Press top 10 for the last nine weeks. They have won 11 straight games since Jan. 28.

Last month, Frese won her 500th game at Maryland, making her the winningest coach in program history. She currently owns a record of 508-130 (. 796) at Maryland and 565-160 (. 779) in her 22 years as a head coach, which includes stops at Minnesota and Ball State.

This year marked Frese’s fourth Big Ten Coach of the Year honor, having previously won in 2002, 2015 and 2019. She was also named ACC Coach of the Year in 2013 and MAC Coach of the Year in 2000.

Big Ten final

IOWA VS. MARYLAND

Saturday, 2 p.m.

TV: ESPNU

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