COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP)Maddie Nolan connected from 3-point range to give No. 11 Michigan an early lead. Leigha Brown did the same moments later.
The Wolverines (15-2, 6-1 Big Ten) would go on to make their first seven shots, and by the time the first quarter ended, they led by 10 – and Naz Hillmon, their best player, had barely touched the ball.
”Naz gets double and triple teamed all the time,” Brown said. ”So if we’re able to hit those shots from the outside, it definitely opens things up and gives you a sense of confidence throughout the rest of the game.”
All of Nolan’s 21 points came on on 3-pointers and Brown added 15 points to lead Michigan to a 69-49 rout of No. 8 Maryland on Sunday. It was just the second win for the Wolverines in 12 meetings with the Terrapins.
Maryland coach Brenda Frese guided the team after her father, Bill, died of cancer on Sunday morning.
Hillmon eventually scored nine points, her first time in single digits all season, but the Wolverines showed they have plenty of other contributors. Michigan held the Terrapins (12-5, 4-2) to only three points in the second quarter and led 34-19 at the break. The second half wasn’t much better for Maryland.
Michigan was a Sweet 16 team last season but still lost by 25 to Maryland at home in March. The Wolverines turned the tables this time.
Though Hillmon had a quiet offensive game, she contributed in other ways, chasing down Angel Reese to block a layup attempt that looked like it would be an easy basket at the end of the first half. That capped a stellar stretch of defense for Michigan, which allowed a 3-pointer by Chloe Bibby with about nine minutes remaining and then nothing more in the second quarter.
”Our game plan early obviously was to limit Naz,” Frese said. ”We did a tremendous job on her, but they’re a great team.”
Maryland shot 3 for 25 in the second and third quarters. Bibby and Reese paced the Terps with nine points each.
”I was really proud of the way that our team played,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. ”I thought our lock-in and focus on the defensive end was absolutely incredible.”
Nolan set a career high with her seven 3-pointers and tied her career high in scoring.
”Maddie, she shot the lights out, and that’s on us. We have to find shooters,” Bibby said. ”We have to be faster on our rotations. I feel like tonight we were just a step late, and they punished us for 40 minutes.”
Michigan: Given the opponent, the margin of victory and the fact that this was a road game, it has to rank as an all-time great performance for this program. What was most impressive was how the Wolverines dominated at both ends without needing much offense from Hillmon.
Maryland: A bad start snowballed quickly for the Terrapins, a veteran team that has played a tough schedule this season. Maryland couldn’t find any answers offensively in the second quarter, which was probably the team’s best chance to make a game of it.
When Frese won the AP coach of the year award last year, it was her father who surprised her with the news. She choked up after Sunday’s game when she talked about the decision to coach after his death.
”I felt like this is where he would want me to be,” she said. ”He’s my heart, and I think a big piece of who I am, obviously as a coach and motivating – he’s always been that. I’m relieved that he’s in a better place, because he suffered at the end. Cancer sucks, as we all know.”
Michigan shot 1 for 12 from 3-point range in a 21-point loss at Nebraska on Jan. 4. In the three games since, the Wolverines went 26 of 50.
Michigan: Host Wisconsin on Thursday night.
Maryland: At Ohio State on Thursday night.
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