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With Brenda Frese absent from the sideline, Terps fall at Ohio State

What to know about the Maryland’s 95-89 loss to the Buckeyes

Associate head coach Karen Blair got a chance to coach the Terrapins with Brenda Frese attending the funeral for her father. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
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Brenda Frese learned a lot from her father, Bill. Many of the lessons came on a basketball court. Those that didn’t often could be applied to the sport. Planning and preparation were tenets of Bill’s, and they have become central to what makes his daughter such an outstanding coach.

That was why, back in November, Frese had associate head coach Karen Blair oversee the Terrapins in their final exhibition game. Frese was planning for when she couldn’t be on the sideline with her team. That time came Thursday, with Frese absent to be at the funeral for Bill, who died Sunday in his Iowa home following a battle with prostate cancer.

With Blair at the helm, No. 12 Maryland went on the road and fell to Ohio State, 95-89, in Columbus. The game didn’t follow the script Frese might have hoped for in her absence, but Blair was not disappointed with her players’ effort.

“As a team, something we’ve talked about this week is honoring Bill’s legacy,” Blair said. “He stood for hard work and family, and I think today I’m happy with the performance by the team. I thought this team came out and they played their hearts out. So I think we made Bill and Brenda proud.

“Obviously, we’re not satisfied with the loss. That’s not what Maryland basketball is about, but I think our energy and effort was right.”

Maryland (12-6, 4-3 Big Ten) has lost consecutive games for the second time this season.

Ohio State (14-3, 6-2) led for all but 105 seconds. The 95 points were the most scored against Maryland this season, and they came after a 69-49 loss to Michigan in which the Terps managed a season low for points.

Maryland’s offense struggled for much of the night against the Buckeyes but was buoyed late by Chloe Bibby’s 14-point fourth quarter. Bibby, who finished with 20 points, almost willed the Terps back into the game, but ultimately their defense was unable to stand up when it mattered.

Taylor Mikesell and Jacy Sheldon entered the game as Ohio State’s clear-cut top offensive weapons, and the Terrapins didn’t do anything to slow either down. Mikesell, who spent the first two years of her college career playing for Maryland, opened the game with a three-pointer and buried shot after shot. The former Big Ten freshman of the year finished with 33 points on 11-for-13 shooting, including 5 for 5 from behind the arc.

Sheldon began the game as a distributor before she got aggressive with her own shot to tally 24 points and 10 assists. The Buckeyes shot a blistering 55 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from three-point range.

With her swagger back, Angel Reese is putting up big numbers for No. 8 Maryland

Angel Reese finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds for Maryland, and Katie Benzan added 16 points, including four three-pointers. The Terps turned the ball over 18 times, their second most this season. They had 17 in the loss to Michigan.

“We’re going to work on starting hungrier and more motivated,” Benzan said of the team’s slow starts. “We need to start with a chip on our shoulder so that doesn’t happen again.”

Here is what to know about Thursday’s game:

Newest Terp

Maryland announced that guard Lavender Briggs will be transferring to College Park. Briggs was second-team all-SEC in 2021 at Florida after averaging 19.5 points. The 6-foot-1 guard will enroll in the spring.

Briggs is rehabbing a stress fracture in her left shin and will be eligible for the 2022-23 season. Briggs averaged 12.5 points in 14 games with the Gators this season before she was injured.

“Lavender is a really talented guard that [can] score and can impact the game in so many ways,” Frese said Wednesday in a statement. “She fit right in with our team and we just loved getting to know her. She will be a great addition to our program.”

Familiar face

Mikesell was anything but a surprise to Maryland. The senior guard started 66 straight games before transferring to Oregon. An Ohio native, she then transferred to her Buckeyes before this season.

Mikesell entered the game as the Big Ten leader in three-pointers made and three-point percentage.

Defending the arc

The Terps struggled to guard the three-point line for the second straight game, which is particularly alarming considering that was high on the scouting report. Michigan’s Maddie Nolan knocked down a career-high seven three-pointers Sunday.

Big guns AWOL

Maryland is flush with scorers at every position, but it needs its two all-Big Ten players to lead the way, especially against ranked opponents. That didn’t happen Thursday as Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller were held to 12 points apiece.

Owusu was 3 for 15 from the field after being held to just four points against Michigan. Miller scored only two points in the first quarter, and that came after she managed just eight points on 2-for-6 shooting against the Wolverines.

“I don’t know if they did anything to limit Ashley,” Blair said. “I felt like Ashley was really aggressive, and I’m actually very proud of her and Katie and how they handled the pressure. Handling that kind of pressure for 40 minutes isn’t easy.”

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