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No. 8 Maryland beats No. 12 Michigan, 88-63, clinches share of Big Ten women’s basketball title

ANN ARBOR, MICH. — Since joining the Big Ten Conference, the Maryland women’s basketball team has at least shared the conference championship in six of seven seasons.

This year, the No. 8 Terps look like they have a shot to win their second national title in school history and first since 2006.

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Diamond Miller scored eight of her 17 points in the first quarter to help Maryland start strong and Ashley Owusu had 22 points in an 88-63 victory over No. 12 Michigan that clinched a share of the Big Ten regular-season title on Thursday.

“What separates this team from all the rest, they’re making it look so easy when it’s really not,” Terps coach Brenda Frese said. “And we’re doing it during a pandemic.”

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Maryland (20-2, 16-1) can win the conference championship outright by ending the regular season with a win against Penn State (9-13, 6-12) at home on Saturday.

“They’re hungry to be great and they’re easy to coach,” Frese said. “They play and practice the right way.”

The Wolverines (13-4, 8-4) were led by Naz Hillmon, who had 19 points.

“We need to get better than we were today, but that team has a chance to make a run in the NCAA tournament for sure,” coach Kim Barnes Arico said.

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Michigan forward Naz Hillmon attempts a shot as Maryland guard Faith Masonius, left, and forward Alaysia Styles defend during a game Thursday in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Michigan forward Naz Hillmon attempts a shot as Maryland guard Faith Masonius, left, and forward Alaysia Styles defend during a game Thursday in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Carlos Osorio / AP)

With a trapping press and an active zone defense, the Terps held Hillmon to two points in the pivotal first quarter as they built a 27-13 lead.

“It was one of our most dominant defensive efforts,” Frese said. “She didn’t get anything easy. She had to play all of her 36 minutes to get 19 points and only had eight field-goal attempts.”

Maryland didn’t have any trouble keeping a comfortable cushion over the final three quarters, leading by as many as 29 points early in the fourth.

Faith Masonius scored 12 points and Mimi Collins added 10 points for the Terps.

Michigan’s Leigha Brown had 14 points and Akienreh Johnson scored 11.

Frese’s 19th team at the school has won nine consecutive games, peaking at the right time. If the Terps can win the Big Ten tournament next week, they will improve their chances of getting a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

When she was coaching at St. John’s, Barnes Arico faced the Terps’ national championship team during the NCAA tournament and said their current squad is equally talented.

“I think they’re pretty special,” she said. “They’re deep. They’re unselfish. They have a great point guard and a great shooter.”

Regular-season finale

PENN STATE@NO. 8 MARYLAND

Saturday, 3 p.m.

Video: BTN-Plus

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