COLLEGE PARK — Brenda Frese didn’t worry much about how her Maryland women’s basketball team would respond to a deflating loss last week.
In the aftermath of Thursday night’s 96-82 loss at No. 6 Iowa, the No. 8 Terps broke a 7-7 tie with 12 unanswered points to close out the first quarter and never looked back en route to a 90-54 shellacking of No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday afternoon before an announced 11,167 at Xfinity Center.
The victory was the program’s largest over a top 10 team, surpassing an 85-58 win against No. 7 Penn State on Dec. 5, 1991. With victories over No. 6 Connecticut, No. 7 Notre Dame and now Ohio State, Maryland has victories over three top 10 opponents in the regular season for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
Maryland’s performance was especially gratifying after Thursday’s setback to the Hawkeyes against whom the Terps led for only 12 seconds and trailed by as many as 20 in the second quarter.
Frese sensed something was brewing among her players.
“I could really tell the other night that loss, to put it in perspective, left a bad taste in our mouth,” she said. “A lot of them went home and got through the door at 4 a.m. and rewatched the game. I knew then that tells you all you need to know about our team.”
Senior shooting guard Diamond Miller said she was “extremely frustrated” after the game against Iowa.
“We did not perform the way we needed to perform that game, and we knew we’re capable of competing [against] and beating teams like Iowa,” she said. “So coming out today was extremely crucial for us just to show we could play 40 minutes and that we are one of the top contenders in the Big Ten. So we’ve got to play like it.”
The Terps (19-5 overall, 10-3 Big Ten) picked up their sixth win in their past seven games against an opponent that had been the favorite just two weeks ago to capture the conference title. Maryland tagged Ohio State with its worst setback since a 100-56 loss to UConn on Nov. 16, 2015.
The Terps also held the Buckeyes to their lowest output since a 66-50 decision to Purdue on Dec. 28, 2019.
As usual, Maryland relied on its Big Three of shooting guards that combined for 70 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and seven steals. Miller had a game-high 29 points plus 10 rebounds and three steals, senior Abby Meyers scored 22 points and had six rebounds, and sophomore Shyanne Sellers amassed 19 points, nine assists, four rebounds and three steals. Sellers had scored a career-high 26 points at Iowa.
Miller, who was named to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Final 10 List and the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 List last week, was sensational in the second half. She scored 18 points on 6-for-9 from the field and converted five of seven free throws.
After hitting a layup and drawing a foul on the same play in the third quarter, Miller flexed both arms and stuck her tongue out at the home crowd, which cheered her vigorously. She said afterward that she was motivated by Ohio State’s tactics, which she initially characterized as “dirty” before pulling back on that description.
“I was definitely pissed off,” she said. “They were very aggressive towards me, and I guess I just showed them what real aggression is.”
Ohio State, which had entered the game ranked in the Top 10 among all NCAA Division I teams in turnovers forced and steals per game, got a taste of its own medicine. The Terps induced the Buckeyes into a season-worst 24 turnovers.
Maryland also stole the ball 15 times, registering its eighth straight game of 10 or more steals. The team entered the game ranked 34th nationally in steals per game (10.2).
And the undersized Terps outproduced Ohio State in the paint. Twenty-four of their 34 buckets occurred in the lane as Maryland outscored the Buckeyes 48-28 in the paint.
The Terps began quickly, scoring the game’s first five points. Meanwhile, Ohio State missed its first five shots before freshman small forward Cotie McMahon dropped in a layup 2:55 into the first quarter.
After the Buckeyes went on a 5-2 burst to tie the score at 7-7 with 4:29 remaining, they did not score a point for the remainder of the quarter, missing four shots and turning the ball over six times.
Maryland took advantage with a 14-0 run in the last 3:45 of the first quarter and the first 16 seconds of the second. Meyers scored 10 points during the spurt on a pair of 3-pointers and a layup.
When senior shooting guard Jacy Sheldon made a layup 30 seconds into the second period, it finally ended a 4:59 drought for Ohio State. But every time the Buckeyes tried to mount a comeback, the Terps responded to maintain at least a double-digit lead and entered halftime with a 42-30 advantage.
Sophomore point guard Taylor Thierry paced the Buckeyes (20-4, 9-4) with 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists, and senior shooting guard Taylor Mikesell added 12 points and four rebounds. But Ohio State lost for the fourth time in its past five games.
Sheldon returned for the first time in 17 games after suffering an unspecified lower-leg injury in a 96-77 victory over Louisville on Nov. 30. She finished with five points on 2-for-8 shooting, five rebounds and three assists, but coach Kevin McGuff said the entire team looked lethargic in the first half.
“Overall, they played a great game, and we were really bad, and that’s to their credit,” he said. “They coached better, they played better, just everything was better about them today. … I thought in the first quarter, we got enough good shots, but we didn’t capitalize. After that, we got a little bit anxious and kind of took some quick, bad shots to try to get back in the game.”
No. 8 Maryland at Northwestern
Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network