COLLEGE PARK — On a night when her parents from Australia were in the stands and fans were gifted with bobbleheads of her, Chloe Bibby didn’t disappoint.
The graduate student power forward scored 17 of her game-high 22 points in the second half to lift the No. 17 Maryland women’s basketball team to a 72-55 win against visiting Rutgers before an announced 3,987 at the Xfinity Center.
Junior point guard Ashley Owusu amassed 17 points and three assists, sophomore power forward Angel Reese (St. Frances) registered her 12th double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and graduate student shooting guard Katie Benzan chipped in 10 points and three rebounds on 4 of 9 shooting.
But it was Bibby who took centerstage for Maryland, which won for the fourth time in its past six games to improve to 14-6 overall and 6-3 in the Big Ten.
Bibby was just one point shy of her season high set in an 87-73 victory at Minnesota on Jan. 9 and two points away from her career best established against Georgia on Jan. 10, 2019, when she was a member of Mississippi State’s program. She has led or been tied for the team lead in scoring in three of Maryland’s past five games.
Bibby, who also added seven rebounds and two assists, may have been inspired by the presence of her parents, Adrian and Leigh-Anne Bibby, who traveled from their home in Warracknabeal, Australia, a week ago for a three-week stay with their daughter.
“It’s just awesome having my parents here,” she said. “They haven’t seen me play in a while. It was just great to have them here. My teammates were finding me when I was open. I thought it was really good. Our defense led a lot to our offense, and that’s what we’ve been working on in practice. So it was great to see that transition.”
Bibby also approved the bobblehead of her given to fans.
”I thought they did a great job,” she said. “It could have had some freckles, but that’s all right. It’s good. I love it. I think it’s my first bobblehead.”
The 6-foot-1 Bibby isn’t just a presence in the paint. She led the offense in 3-pointers with three in seven attempts, and coach Brenda Frese heaped praise on Bibby.
“I thought Chloe’s second half was one of the best halves in a game,” she said. “I thought she just played with a ton of energy and moved off the bounce. We need her parents to come out more often. She played as hard as she always plays. I say that tongue-in-cheek, but it was just really moving for her.”
After the Terps took a 35-26 lead just 1:14 into the third quarter, the Scarlet Knights embarked on a 10-2 run to trim the deficit to one at 37-36 with 6:59 remaining.
Maryland closed out the final 6:46 on an 18-6 run with Bibby scoring eight points. She continued her torrid scoring touch in the fourth quarter, dropping eight of the team’s first 10 points to give the Terps a 65-47 advantage with 6:07 left that would never be seriously threatened.
Reese, a Baltimore resident, said there’s a comfort level knowing that the offense can lead on multiple options to lead the way.
“I know that if I kick it out, they’ll make the shot, and if not, I can get the offensive rebound and kick it out to them or score,” she said. “It’s just fun playing with a group of girls like this. There’s so much talent.”
Scarlet Knights acting coach Timothy Eatman said opponents can’t single out one Maryland player to contain.
“You have to be focused for the entire shot clock. That’s the key,” he said. “It’s already difficult to guard them one-on-one. But then when you start to scramble and you start to go help the helper, everybody’s got to be locked in. You can’t take a break off, a possession off, or a pass off. You’ve got to make the next rotation.”
The Terps got some assistance from a Rutgers squad that had trouble with ball security. The Scarlet Knights committed a season-high 26 turnovers, and although Maryland could only convert them into 15 points, the giveaways were enough to disrupt any consistent rhythm they wished to establish on offense.
But Frese said she is still not pleased that the Terps were outrebounded by their opponent for the second time in four games and that Rutgers rallied in the third quarter.
“We relaxed, and Rutgers was going to fight and compete for 40 minutes,” she said. “You see that in the conference now whether you’re the top of the league or the bottom of the league. These teams are going to compete and come after you for 40 minutes.”
Graduate student forward Osh Brown and redshirt senior shooting guard Destiny Marshall led Rutgers (7-14, 0-9) with 10 points each, and Brown added 12 rebounds. But graduate student point guard Shug Dickson, who compiled 18 points, five rebounds and five assists in Rutgers’ 73-59 loss to the Terps on Dec. 5, was limited to coming off the bench and finished with three points, two rebounds, one assist and three turnovers.
Eatman credited the Terps with concentrating on grabbing rebounds to turn back his team’s comeback attempt in the third quarter.
“When we made our runs, they found a way to get to the offensive rebound,” he said. “Every time we got a stop, they went to the offensive boards really well. I thought that they did a great job of attacking us, and we stayed on our heels too much.”
NO. 17 MARYLAND@PENN STATE
Sunday, 2 p.m.
Stream: Big Ten Plus