Brenda Frese ties Maryland women’s basketball record with 499th win as No. 10 Terps trounce Wisconsin, 84-48

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Katherine Fominykh, The Baltimore Sun
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Maryland women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese is one win from making history thanks to a team that continues to demonstrate to the Big Ten Conference there is almost no one who can bring them down.

The No. 10 Terps smoked Wisconsin for the second time this season, 84-48, on Thursday, giving Frese something only one other coach in Maryland history has accomplished: 499 wins, tying 27-year coach Chris Weller.

Frese, in her 19th season at Maryland, has the opportunity to capture her program-record 500th win at Nebraska on Feb. 14.

Thursday’s victory ensures the Terps keep their grip on the top of the Big Ten standings, improving to 9-1 (13-2 overall) with less than half of the conference regular-season slate to go. Six Maryland players hit double-digits, led by senior Katie Benzan, who had 18 – half of which she scored in the fourth quarter.

The Terps struggled with their 3-point shooting in the first half (4-for-10), but Benzan changed that. All the Terps needed to do in the fourth quarter was placate the struggling Badgers. So, Benzan hit four of her game-high six 3-pointers.

Thursday’s victory makes Maryland’s 29th straight regular-season game in which it scored at least 70 points, more than any other Big Ten team. No other Big Ten team has hit 70 points in each of their games this season either, as Maryland has.

Maryland couldn’t have been more perfect to start. The Terps went 6-for-6 from the field, including a pair beyond the arc by Chloe Bibby (14 points) and sophomore Ashley Owusu (17 points) to lead the Badgers 14-4 before the visitors called a timeout.

Frese noted her young players showed improvement between the last meeting with Wisconsin on Jan. 17, in which the Badgers played Maryland close, and Thursday, in which the Terps buried the Badgers (4-12, 1-12) from the jump.

Frese marveled during the shooting drills in practice Wednesday that she didn’t have to once remind her players what to do. They’d honed their skills to correction on their own.

“At times against Wisconsin, we had really good defense and then our breakdowns would be with our box-outs. ... That reared its ugly head against Ohio State. That attention to detail, finishing plays, finishing box outs, has been really important,” Frese said, “and I think the team has taken some great accountability really trying to improve in that area.”

The Badgers improved to hit five of 10 baskets by the end of the first quarter. But even as the Terps’ shooting petered off a bit as the quarter wound down, walking out of the frame shooting 69%, Maryland still maintained a lead with meat on it, 22-12.

Owusu, dependable as an evergreen, generated almost half of her team’s scoring, with nine points.

Sometimes, a player just takes a quarter into her hands. In the second, the spotlight shifted to illuminate Mimi Collins (14 points).

The redshirt-sophomore forward whirled, battled and pulled up to record eight of the Terps’ 24 points without a miss. Hers was a well-timed glow-up, as Maryland’s production otherwise dipped from its early first-quarter performance.

Overall, Maryland hit 18 of 31 shots before halftime to lead 46-23.

Though much of Wisconsin’s shooting got gummed up in Maryland’s defense – 9-for-25 overall (36%) – the whistle wasn’t the Badgers’ friend either, as the visitors suffered four travel calls before the half.

But as the Badgers chipped a little at the Terps’ lead to start the third quarter, a timeout did Maryland some good. With six points in the paint, off a fastbreak and opponent turnover, Owusu spearheaded an impressive scoring drive to demolish any of the dents Wisconsin made. With help from Bibby, Miller and Faith Masonius – who hit a 10-point, 11-rebound double double – Maryland scored 16 points without a response.

When that response came, it was a whistle in the wind: the Badgers managed just three more points before the buzzer to trail 64-35.

One of Maryland’s primary weapons, Diamond Miller, didn’t exactly hike to her peak. Most of her 11-point output came from the free-throw line (5-for-6), while the sophomore, who accomplished a career high earlier this season and regularly scores in double figures, only made three of her 11 shots.

NO. 10 MARYLAND@NEBRASKA

Feb. 14, 5 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports 1