INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Maryland coach Brenda Frese thinks her team is ready for the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder agrees.
Chloe Bibby scored 21 points, and the seventh-ranked Terrapins showed off their depth in a 104-84 victory over Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament championship on Saturday.
“I love where this team is at right now,” Frese said. “I wouldn’t want to play us.”
Maryland (24-2) shot 51% from the field in its 13th straight win — all by double digits. Diamond Miller had 15 points and seven assists, and Katie Benzan finished with 14 points and six assists.
The Terps’ impressive win streak has put them in the mix for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“I could really see them get to the Final Four,” Bluder said.
Maryland has reached the Big Ten title game in each of the seven seasons since joining the conference, and won six of seven regular-season titles. The nation’s No. 1 offense, which entered this week averaging 93.1 points, comes at an opponent fast and is relentless.
“We just play hard as soon as we step on the court and it becomes fun,” Miller said. “We’re always smiling.”
Maryland led 55-37 at halftime and 79-57 after three quarters. Each half started with top-seeded Maryland hitting a 3-pointer on the opening possession.
“I thought they were just dialed in from start to finish,” Frese said.
Then there were moments when the talent was undeniably unique. Late in the first half, Angel Reese threw a no-look, wraparound pass inside to Faith Masonius, who finished with a reverse layup. And both of those players come off the bench.
“Our teammates have proven they are scorers just like us,” Miller said.
Monika Czinano scored 22 points for Iowa (18-9), and Caitlin Clark finished with 21. Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall each scored 11.
“I’m really, really proud of our team,” Czinano said. “I don’t think very many people ever thought we’d make it to a championship game.”
The fifth-seeded Hawkeyes had to win three games in as many days to play for a fourth consecutive day against one of the best teams in the country.
“I’m not disappointed with the effort this weekend,” Bluder said. “(Maryland is) such an offensive juggernaut.”
The Hawkeyes shot 53% from the field, but couldn’t stop Maryland’s offense, whether it was trying to defend strong drives to the rim, getting back in transition, or not extending enough on the perimeter to prevent 3-pointers. The Terps seemingly did whatever they wanted.
“I know we’re really excited about what lies ahead,” Frese said.
Iowa: Reaching the title game as an unranked fifth seed should translate to a higher seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland: This is the fifth tourney title for the Terps, who also won in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2020.
MILLER VOTED MOP
Four of the five players voted by media to the all-tournament team played in the finale. Miller received the Jim and Kitty Delany Most Outstanding Player award. She was joined on the team by 2020 MOP Owusu, Czinano, and Clark. Michigan State’s Nia Clouden, who scored 30 points in a quarterfinal victory against Indiana, was the other selection.
Iowa: NCAA Tournament, TBA.
Maryland, NCAA Tournament, TBA.
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