Maryland women beat Michigan State for sixth straight win

Maryland women beat Michigan State for sixth straight win

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Diamond Miller corralled a rebound, rallied and went back strong for a layup while being hacked from behind. She immediately turned and let out a scream as Lavender Briggs ran up for a chest skin.

That three-point play early in the third quarter included the first basket in a 15-0 run that No. 13 Maryland used to cruise to a 94-85 victory over Michigan State on Saturday afternoon at the Xfinity Center.

“Diamond brings a lot of energy to the team,” Briggs said. “She’s always amped up. I think we need that spark of energy and she is a key factor in what our team does together.”

The win was the sixth in a row for the Terrapins (13-3, 4-1), and extended a season high. The Spartans (10-6, 2-3) saw their four-game hitting streak end.

Maryland outscored Michigan State 30-11 in the third quarter after the score was tied at 40 at halftime. The Spartans had used their size advantage in the post and eight three-pointers in the first half to keep the game close, but the Terps struck down in both areas. With Shyanne Sellers (who finished with 19 points, two of her career high) and Briggs also involved, the result was a lopsided quarter that nearly decided the game.

“I thought [Maryland Coach Brenda Frese] did a good job of inspiring them pretty quickly to come out with a little bit of a different mentality, Michigan State Coach Suzy Merchant said. “Two things: We didn’t hit shots. I thought we had some open looks and it was the right people who took it. They just didn’t fall. And … our defense was Swiss cheese. There’s five people there and it felt like there were 10 Maryland players to our five. We didn’t compete defensively in that quarter.”

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As for the men: Maryland’s offense sputters again in loss to relentless Rutgers

Miller put together another gaudy stat line: 25 points to go with eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal. To go with her 19 points, Sellers had six rebounds, five assists and a late block, after which she waved her finger like Dikembe Mutombo. Briggs’ 15 points were a season high to go with seven rebounds off the bench. Faith Masonius added 12 points, and Abby Meyers had 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Maryland’s 94 points were second most of the season; it poured in 107 during a win over Minnesota on Dec. 30.

“People can’t collapse on me, because there are shooters out there,” Miller said. “And if you collapse, the shooters are going to hit the three — and threes are better than twos at the end of the day. So I think you just pick your poison.”

Maryland faces its toughest test from the opening days of Big Ten play when it visits No. 6 Indiana (13-1, 3-1) on Thursday.

Here’s what else you should know about the Terps win:

The last three games have been the best for Briggs, a transfer from Florida, in a Maryland jersey. She started the second half, and her 30 minutes was her most since November 27. Briggs is averaging 13 points in his last three games, reaching double figures in each, after scoring in double figures just once before that. Her defense had been positive, but Frese was waiting for the offense to emerge after Briggs was a key contributor for the Gators.

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“Honestly, I just try to play hard,” Briggs said. “I try to play defense and get my teammates shots, and I know they’re going to find me, get me shots — and easy shots at that. Smash the boards as hard as I can and try to keep the assets going.”

Last time out: Maryland women start fast and roll past Rutgers on the road

Michigan State connected on 19 of 44 three-point attempts and grabbed 20 offensive rebounds. That’s usually tough to overcome, but Maryland shot 57.6 percent in the second half and was 20 for 23 from the free throw line for the game. In the decisive third quarter, the Spartans shot 2 for 11 from behind the arc and were outrebounded 14-7.

“Our third quarter was our X-factor,” Frese said. “They had 20 [offensive] fold on us, made 19 threes — I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a stat like that and you come away and still win the game, but we did all the other things that made the difference. Our focus, we were able to dial in more. They did a good job early on the inside and we were late with a lot of it. And we are undersized in that area.

“So I thought our defense picked up and we were able to be more aware of the game plan and be able to understand what they were doing to come back.”

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