Three takeaways from Maryland women’s basketball’s 76-59 win over Notre Dame in Sweet 16

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Diamond Miller prides herself on her ability to score for Maryland women’s basketball. That mindset helped her record 18 points in the No. 2 seed Terps’ 76-59 victory over No. 3 seed Notre Dame in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game Saturday afternoon at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

The senior shooting guard has scored 1,682 points in her career to pass Christy Winters Scott (1987-90) for 10th place on the school’s all-time list. With 647 points this season, Miller also moved four spots to No. 8 in the single-season mark for points, overtaking Kristi Toliver (631 in 2007-08), Deanna Tate (633 in 1988-89), Alyssa Thomas (640 in 2012-13) and Toliver again (645 in 2008-09).


But what galled Miller was that she missed seven layups and had another shot blocked against the Fighting Irish. Some of them were contested, but that did little to ease her irritation.

“I’m missing way too many chippies at the rim,” she said. “Luckily, we have practice tomorrow. So I get to really work on that, my finishing of the flick of the wrist. But yeah, part of the process — you make baskets, you miss — is basketball.


Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s outcome as Maryland (28-6) prepares to meet overall No. 1 seed South Carolina (35-0) in Monday’s Elite Eight game at 7 p.m.

Shyanne Sellers, driving to the basket during Saturday's game against Notre Dame, amassed 18 points (16 in the second half), eight assists, five rebounds and three steals. She also drew a game-high 10 fouls and converted 8 of 9 free throws.

Maryland needs more stellar performances from Shyanne Sellers

All eyes are on Miller, and that’s fine with sophomore shooting guard Shyanne Sellers.

“I would love it if they keep worrying about Diamond. Please keep doing that,” she said with a laugh.

Sellers proved that she might be more than well equipped to play Robin to Miller’s Batman. Against Notre Dame, she amassed 18 points (16 in the second half), eight assists, five rebounds and three steals. She also drew a game-high 10 fouls and converted 8 of 9 free throws.

Sellers admitted she was tentative in a first half in which she finished with two points, five assists and three turnovers.

“It was definitely not like me, but I wanted to get my teammates involved first, and that wasn’t really working,” she said. “So I kind of had to flip a switch.”

Sellers didn’t sneak up on Fighting Irish coach Niele Ivey, who remembered how the Terps guard compiled 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in Maryland’s 74-72 victory Dec. 1.

“I felt like she did a great job against us in South Bend, and today she was phenomenal leading the team, being aggressive offensively, defensively,” Ivey said. “She got some defensive stops and charges. She made really good heads-up plays. She plays with a ton of confidence, and the team goes as she goes, and she had an incredible game.”


In her past four starts, Sellers has averaged 14 points, 7.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals. Against South Carolina, the Terps could use another strong showing from Sellers, who finished with nine points, five rebounds, three assists and three turnovers in an 81-56 loss to the Gamecocks on Nov. 11.

For her part, Sellers isn’t sweating the expectations.

“I don’t feel any pressure. It is what it is,” she said. “Of course it matters to me, but I’m not really in my head about it. I think it will eventually happen.”

Maryland's Brinae Alexander drives to the basket during a win over Notre Dame on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in Greenville, South Carolina.

The bench’s importance can’t be overstated

Among the teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament, only South Carolina, Tennessee and Miami get more from their bench per game than the Terps, who average 22.9 points from their reserves.

That was evident against Notre Dame as the shooting guard trio of seniors Lavender Briggs and Brinae Alexander and freshman Bri McDaniel combined for 25 points, six rebounds and four assists, outscoring the Fighting Irish’s reserves by 12 points.

When coach Brenda Frese pulled Briggs and Alexander from the game with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter, she hugged them both for a mini-huddle.


“They came to Maryland for moments like this,” Frese said. “I thought they rose to the occasion. They thrived in it. Just to share with them we’re not finished. We did not come here just to get to an Elite Eight, and those two were really critical to our success.”

As much as the Terps cultivate from their bench, the Gamecocks lead the nation in bench scoring at 36.6 points per game, and their reserves outscored No. 4 seed UCLA’s, 28-13. Alexander said Maryland’s group, which was outscored 34-16 by South Carolina four months ago, is eager to make an impact.

“We have five 1,000-point scorers,” she said, referring to Miller, senior shooting guard Abby Meyers (1,434), Briggs (1,204), herself (1,138) and graduate student point guard Elisa Pinzan (1,029). “I don’t know any other team that has that. So our offensive firepower is really good, and we always pride ourselves on trying to get more bench points than the opponent and honing in on that. I think that’s a good asset for our team to have.”

Maryland coach Brenda Frese yells to her players during the first half of Saturday's Sweet 16 game against Notre Dame in Greenville, South Carolina.

Turnovers lead to offense

Only one team left in the tournament is as prolific as the Terps are at creating turnovers (19.5 per game), and that would be fellow Big Ten member Ohio State (20.2). That reputation was further burnished Saturday when they induced Notre Dame into committing a season-worst 25 turnovers, including 15 steals.

Maryland scored 22 points off those miscues, including 16 in the second half. While Ivey credited the Terps’ full-court press with forcing their hand, Meyers said their press has a two-pronged approach.

“For us, our press is not necessarily to get a steal every time, but to speed them up and use the shot clock so that when they do set up, they have less time,” she said. “We’re athletic, and we’re just competitive out there, and we just want to get as many good opportunities for us as we can on the court.”


Whether Maryland can wreak havoc on South Carolina could determine Monday’s result. The Gamecocks entered Saturday’s game as the top remaining team in the tournament at protecting the ball, committing just 12.6 turnovers per game. South Carolina turned the ball over a season-high 20 times against Maryland earlier this season, but the Terps converted them into only 11 points.

Alexander acknowledged that they will have to be more opportunistic Monday night.

“I think it makes it very easy because we have numbers in transition,” she said. “I think it opens up the floor for opportunities for drives-and-kicks. Defense just leads to offense, and I think being aggressive and speeding the other team up helps.”

NCAA Tournament Elite Eight

No. 2 seed Maryland vs. No. 1 seed South Carolina

Greenville, South Carolina


Monday, 7 p.m.