TERPS

Baltimore Sun - - COL­LEGE BAS­KET­BALL -

The out­come also has per­sonal sig­nif­i­cance for Frese, whose fam­ily still re­sides in Cedar Rapids and can hold their heads high over their Iowa-sup­port­ing neigh­bors.

“I’m so proud, and I told them be­fore the game the courage it’s taken from that loss on Jan. 9 to where they are now. It’s com­pletely them,” Frese said. “They’ve bought in. When you look at to­day, this is what it looks like: Mary­land bas­ket­ball. De­fense, tran­si­tion of­fense, shar­ing the bas­ket­ball. Now, see­ing how they elite they are and that you want to keep going on this.”

Five Mary­land play­ers recorded dou­ble fig­ures, led by se­nior guard Kaila Charles, the reign­ing Big Ten Player of the Week, who net­ted a game-high 21 points, in­clud­ing the first six.

“I thought Kaila Charles showed the All-Amer­i­can she is. She set the tone from the tip,” Frese said. “From the minute she’s got­ten here, when you look at how she leads us day in and day out, and her num­bers in con­fer­ence play only showed who the best player in the con­fer­ence is in this game.”

Charles also reached her 1,900th ca­reer point Thurs­day, prim­ing her to po­ten­tially leave Col­lege Park as a mem­ber of a small group of Mary­land women’s play­ers who scored 2,000.

“It means my team­mates have done a great job find­ing me, en­cour­ag­ing to play hard,” Charles said. “It means a lot to me.”

It wasn’t as if Iowa (20-5, 11-3) didn’t know how to beat this Mary­land team. They had de­feated the Terps three straight times, in­clud­ing in the Big Ten tour­na­ment last March.

In the teams’ pre­vi­ous meet­ing, Iowa com­mit­ted 23 turnovers, while Mary­land had 22. The key difference be­tween Jan­uary’s slopfest and Thurs­day night’s game was who could keep a grip of the ball — and who, cer­tainly, could not.

De­fense smoth­ered the Hawkeyes, forc­ing 27 turnovers — in­clud­ing 23 in the first three quar­ters — ver­sus Mary­land’s 14. The Terps piled up 37 points off those free pos­ses­sions.

“That’s a re­ally good Iowa team, if you talk about those vet­eran se­nior guards. If any­thing, this should give us a tremen­dous amount of con­fi­dence,” Frese said.

A bet­ter shoot­ing per­cent­age (.557) for Mary­land than the one it man­aged in its last loss on Jan. 9 (.310) didn’t hurt ei­ther.

Af­ter a brief pe­riod pe­riod in which Iowa kept the game close, trail­ing the Terps 11-8, the vis­i­tors be­gan to slip.

Mary­land stalked the Hawkeyes like a pack of hunt­ing dogs, hound­ing the vis­i­tors in the paint they’d pre­vi­ously felt so com­fort­able in. Iowa’s shot pro­duc­tion plum­meted, drop­ping from 14 points in the first quar­ter to just nine in the sec­ond, off the same num­ber of at­tempts (13).

“I thought just the tenac­ity de­fen­sively, gosh, we were get­ting into traps that I hadn’t seen us be that ag­gres­sive with, lock­ing them down,” Frese said. “I thought we re­ally sent a mes­sage early in that first quar­ter with our de­fense. You can tell, we’re hav­ing a lot of fun with the way we’re play­ing and turn­ing people over.

Af­ter a me­dia time­out, the Terps pres­sured Iowa into its first of two shot-clock vi­o­la­tions be­fore half­time.

“It gets us hyped up, it gives us en­ergy,” Charles said. “To have them in the first quar­ter, we wanted to punch first. That starts with our de­fense, and it leads to our of­fense.”

Against an Iowa of­fense in dis­ar­ray, Mary­land thrived (55.6% shoot­ing first half ), with guard Ashley Owusu (17 points, 10 as­sists) set­ting the terms of the rout.

The fresh­man rolled off the bench for 10 points by the end of the first quar­ter, split­ting through traf­fic for a back­door layup that would pre­cede sopho­more Tay­lor Mike­sell’s sec­ond of three 3point­ers be­fore the end of the quar­ter and four be­fore the half.

The Hawkeyes made an ef­fort to keep mat­ters, at the very least, within sin­gle dig­its with a 3-pointer by Tomi Taiwo off the bench, but Owusu wasn’t feel­ing a close game.

As the fi­nal sec­onds ticked down, the fresh­man marched to­wards the bas­ket, zigzagged around Iowa de­fend­ers and drained a shot be­fore the buzzer that ce­mented a dou­ble-digit Mary­land lead, 25-14.

“She’s so dynamic,” Frese said of Owusu, who was just named the Big Ten Fresh­man of the Week for the third time. “As a fresh­man in our league, I’d like to see who can match her.”

The Hawkeyes’ hopes to re­set in the sec­ond quar­ter were met like a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion in February — abysmally. As the Terps of­fense cruised to­ward its 20-point­plus lead, Iowa’s could barely breathe against a de­fense that would not let up. Hawkeyes shoot­ers scanned des­per­ately for an open­ing, even­tu­ally dump­ing a lost-cause pass into se­nior Kath­leen Doyle’s hands, who glanced up at four sec­onds on the shot clock and took a des­per­ate heave, frus­tra­tion crack­ling on her face.

“We are usually re­ally good at break­ing presses,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “This is one of the very few times that we’ve had trou­ble with it. I’m a lit­tle sur­prised by it.”

The Terps grabbed own­er­ship of ev­ery inch of the court in the first half, dou­bling their vis­i­tors 24-12 on points in the paint and tak­ing a 10-4 edge on fast breaks. Of Iowa’s dozen turnovers, the Terps cap­i­tal­ized for 18 points, namely thanks to se­nior Blair Wat­son, who had five steals.

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