COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland coach Brenda Frese allowed her players to cut down the nets to celebrate another title.
That’s usually a ritual reserved for a postseason tournament.
However, Frese wanted to make sure her players fully enjoyed the moment after such a tumultuous year.
Chloe Bibby had 15 points and nine rebounds, and No. 8 Maryland clinched the Big Ten regular-season championship with an 88-61 victory over Penn State on Saturday.
“The reason I wanted to do it this year is that it did hit differently,” Frese said about cutting down the nets. “I think we all recognize the fact that we are in a pandemic. There’s nothing guaranteed for tomorrow. Our purpose is to continue to play. But we saw a year ago when we were shut down completely and were unable to play in the NCAA Tournament.”
The Terrapins have won the title in six of their seven years in the conference. Maryland was outright champions in 2015, 2016 and 2019, with shared titles in 2017 and 2020. Ohio State won the title in 2018.
Diamond Miller had 14 points for the Terrapins (21-2, 17-1), who earned their 10th straight win. Ashley Owusu and Mimi Collins each scored 12 points.
“I just have great teammates,” Collins said. “My teammates were finding me in transition and they were finding me in the post. We played in-and-out very well. When people starting playing on me, it just opened things up for my teammates.”
Maryland was stout defensively and scored 28 points off 23 turnovers.
Niya Beverley scored 15 points for the Nittany Lions, who have lost seven of their past eight games. Makenna Marisa added 10 points and six assists.
Penn State (9-14, 6-13) weathered several Maryland runs and trailed 44-32 at the break.
Maryland responded by increasing the pressure and began to pull away early in the second half. A layup by Owusu capped a 21-2 run and boosted the margin to 65-36 with 3:48 left in the third quarter.
The Nittany Lions struggled with Maryland’s zone and the Terrapins were dominant in transition.
A pair of layups by freshman Angel Reese and Alaysia Styles gave Maryland a 77-44 lead with 7:11 left in the game.
Reese had 11 points for Maryland, which also beat Penn State 96-82 on Dec. 31.
The latest win was especially satisfying for the Maryland players with a handful of family members allowed in the stands.
“It was definitely special and very cool for our families being able to see us play being this was our last home game, ” Owusu said. “It’s just so happened it was also the game for us to clinch the Big Ten.”
HOME SWEET HOME
The Terrapins finished the regular season 10-0 in College Park.
Maryland has the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation with 91.5 points per game. It is on pace to break the program record of 89.7 points per game set in 1977-78 (including the postseason).
Penn State: The Nittany Lions are the youngest team in the Big Ten with eight freshmen and they gained valuable experience over the past season. If the young players continue to develop, Penn State could be a force in the conference.
Maryland: The Terrapins have a shot at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Maryland has wins over teams currently ranked No. 10, No. 12, No. 13 and No. 24 in the AP poll.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions will play in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on March 10.
Maryland: The Terrapins are the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.