Maryland women beat Penn State for fifth straight win


Diamond Miller charged up the left flank, losing a Penn State defender with two quick crossovers and then dodging another by swinging the ball over the Nittany Lion’s head while going into a Euro step. The Maryland senior finished with a reverse layup, spinning the ball off the glass and spreading out of bounds.

The sequence left the crowd at the Xfinity Center in awe and summed up the night for the No. 8 Terrapins, who led more than 39 of the 40 minutes Monday and rolled to an 87-66 win. The win was Maryland’s 13th straight over Penn State.

It could have been easy for Maryland (18-4, 9-2 Big Ten) to overlook the Nittany Lions (12-10, 3-8), especially given the Terps’ grueling schedule ahead. But they got dialed in early and never gave up control. They ended the first quarter on a 20-2 run that gave them a 29-9 lead after 10 minutes. The run was led by senior Abby Meyers (a game-high 24 points) and Miller (14).

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Maryland has won five in a row and 11 of 12. The Terps’ placement is a season high, and considering what’s coming next, they seem to be finding their step at just the right time.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Warden Shyanne Sellers said. “I don’t think our best basketball is yet to come. We haven’t played a full 40-minute game where we were exceptional.”

What comes next is the most treacherous part of the conference game on Maryland’s schedule, which begins Thursday with a trip to No. 6 Iowa (17-4, 9-1). The Terps host No. 10 Ohio State (19-3, 8-3) on Sunday, and the stretch also includes a home game against Illinois (17-5, 7-4), who fell out of the rankings this week . The conference schedule ends with rematches against the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Sellers said. “Just, obviously, big opportunities ahead of us. It really comes down to being the most disciplined team.”

The terps are not in control of their own destiny. Indiana No. 4 (20-1, 10-1), who defeated Maryland in Bloomington on Jan. 12, is in the driver’s seat of the Big Ten. If the Hoosiers win – by no means a suspension given their schedule – the crown will be theirs.

Meyers continued to recover from a recent slump in shooting and showed off her offensive versatility, scoring on all three levels and setting up teammates with skillful passes. She finished the game with a team-high of six rebounds and three assists.

“Play my role and keep it simple,” Meyers said. “And bring the energy with you. That’s what I keep telling myself – don’t think about it.

“You’re going to have a lot of different games throughout the season that have ups and downs. But for me as a leader, to be aggressive on defense and have that control of the defensive end when offense might not be rolling — that’s what I tell myself.

Miller was a force early on with eight points in the first quarter before ending a night with 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Sellers put in most of the work in the second half, ending up with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

Makenna Marisa led Penn State, which is winless against Big Ten opponents, with 23 points. Taniyah Thompson added 17.

“It’s really hard when you’re playing a team like Maryland, obviously a top 10 team,” said Penn State coach Carolyn Kieger, “to close that gap and then try to fight back.”

Here’s what else you should know about Maryland’s win:

The win continued a recent defensive trend for the terps, which have kept Penn State in single digits for each of the first two quarters. Defense has been a hallmark of this five-game winning streak, especially early on. Maryland kept their opponents in single digits in four quarters during the streak, and neither team reached 30 points in the first half.

“The trust, the bond – it took some time to bring so many new players together and teach defense,” said coach Brenda Frese. “It’s starting to really click. Our effort and energy is much greater. So I think the two play off each other.

“We play a lot harder. We know it’s going to be really important, but I think our rotations and, defensively, where we want to be have really improved. You see a mixture of both.”

The Big Ten is the only conference with four teams in the top 10 in the Associated Press rankings: Indiana, Iowa, Maryland and Ohio State represent the league. Two other conferences (the SEC and the Pac-12) have two each.

Miller was added to the late-season watchlist, which narrows the list down to 20 players, for the Wooden Award, presented to the country’s most outstanding player. The two-time All-Big Ten guard leads the team in points and rebounds.

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