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‘Consistency’ key as No. 20 Maryland women’s basketball rolls past No. 17 Indiana, 76-62, for 3rd straight win

Whether the Maryland women’s basketball team has hit its stride remains to be seen, but after a third straight runaway win in Big Ten play, the Terps are looking awfully good.

Scoring points in bunches and hitting on all cylinders, No. 20 Maryland led by as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter Monday on the way to a 76-62 victory over 17th-ranked Indiana, which dropped its third straight game.

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Since a road loss to Iowa on Jan. 9, Maryland has stepped up its game in one-sided wins over Michigan, Nebraska and now Indiana. Against the Hoosiers, the Terps looked as complete and multi-faceted as they have this season.

The Terps (14-4, 5-2 Big Ten) were ranked 20th in the nation coming into the game and should move up a few notches now that they have won three straight in the conference.

“I thought we wore them down. I thought it was going to be a tight game and a game of runs,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “We wanted to continue to play the way we wanted to play, taking it to them. Our defense and transition remained patient throughout the game.”

Asked if this was as good a stretch as the team has played this season, Frese praised the consistency of the team’s play the past three games.

“Certainly that is something we’ve talked about. Consistency,” Frese said, “We’re learning how to do that with both our young [players] as well as our old. I think the difference is that the team has taken ownership of the team. Now I can’t get them to stop talking. It’s not being coach-led but player-led. When you have a team that’s player-led, good things are in store.”

The Terps scored in bunches, had both the 3-point shot and inside lay-ins in play, and put up a defense that was so good that Indiana got just two second-chance points, was outrebounded 40-28 and was outscored 41-22 in the second and third quarters. Maryland led by 22 after three quarters and was up 69-45 with 5:11 to play.

Having big games and perhaps posting their best games in Big Ten play were Shakira Austin and Taylor Mikesell. Austin had 22 points, scoring the Terps’ first 14 points of the fourth quarter after getting just two in the first half. She was 10-for-13 from the free-throw line.

“You see her specialness when she plays like she did tonight, hitting free throws and playing offensively the way she did,” Frese said of Austin’s role in the win. “She was definitely our X-factor out there.”

Mikesell, who had seemed to have lost her 3-point shot while concentrating on her new point guard duties, had 16 points and eight assists. She made four of her five 3-point tries.

“I’m getting real comfortable [at point guard], letting the flow of the game happen and when I get shots, take them,” Mikesell said. “I wasn’t going out to take shots, but to have fun and I had a lot of fun.”

Frese added that “it was really cool” to see Mikesell score and credited her for “her most complete game.”

Two other starters — Stephanie Jones (Aberdeen) and Kaila Charles — scored 12 points. Maryland moved its scoring around, getting 44 points in the paint, 22 on fast breaks and 18 off turnovers.

The Terps scored the game’s first four baskets for a quick 8-0 lead as Charles, Watson, Jones and Watson took turns putting the ball in the net, but Indiana battled back this first time, closing to within 16-15 as the quarter ended and taking the lead briefly at 18-16 in the second quarter. Ashley Owusu’s lay-up tied at 18 and Jones scored in the paint to give the Terps back the lead. Those baskets started a 12-2 finish to the half, something the Hoosiers never recovered from. For the game, they led just 25 seconds.

Since joining the Big Ten, Maryland has won eight in a row against Indiana.

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No. 20 Maryland@Illinois

Thursday, 8 p.m.

Video: Big Ten Network Plus

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