Benzan leads No. 8 Maryland past Iowa 111-93

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — (AP) — Maryland’s Katie Benzan continuously juked defenders before stepping back and making shots from 3-point range.

On the other side of the court, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark also routinely converted her attempts from beyond the arc.

It was a mesmerizing performance by both players, but in the end, the ninth-ranked Terrapins had more firepower.

Benzan broke her school record with nine 3-pointers and scored a career-high 29 points to lead eighth-ranked Maryland to a 111-93 victory over Iowa on Tuesday.

Clark was equally impressive and made nine shots from beyond the arc, one shy of a program record, and scored 29 of her 34 points in the first half. Clark has scored 30 or more points nine times, the most in NCAA women’s basketball.

“Caitlin Clark is the best freshman in the country,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “If you can go against a top 10 program like us — and we did everything we could do to stop her — and to get 34 points says it all. She was a difficult matchup for us.”

The Terrapins’ 68 first-half points were the most scored in Big Ten history.

Diamond Miller had 27 points and Ashley Owusu added 24 points and 12 assists for the Terrapins (17-2, 13-1 Big Ten).

“I am creating a shot not only for myself but for my teammates,” Owusu said. “When they collapse on me, people are open. When they fly to the outside, I’m open. I am just recognizing the defense and taking what they can give me.”

The game was originally scheduled for Jan. 21, but Iowa coach Lisa Bluder canceled that trip because of the potential for further civil unrest with the presidential inauguration in nearby Washington.

The matchup featured the highest-scoring offenses in the nation: Maryland is ranked No. 1 with 92.4 points per game, followed by Iowa (12-7, 8-7) with 87.9 points. The Terrapins had won their previous five games by an average of 35 points, and once again, they got off to a fast start and never looked back.

Miller went 4 of 4 from 3-point range and Benzan also made all four of her attempts from beyond the arc as Maryland led 41-21 at the end of the first quarter. It tied for the most points the Terrapins have scored in one quarter in program history.

“Today, they played a zone, which opened up the 3-point line for all of us,” Benzan said. “The shots just went down. And we play with such a great point guard in (Owusu). She just finds the open person every single time.”

Maryland controlled the second quarter and a jumper by Owusu provided a 68-51 lead at the break.

A pair of free throws by Chloe Bibby gave Maryland an 88-62 lead late in the third quarter and even Clark could not shoot Iowa back into the game. Bibby finished with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Miller made a layup that provided a 101-82 lead, the fifth time Maryland scored over 100 points this season.

“Scoring 100 is just a testament to playing with five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 great players,” Benzan said. “We are all threats on the court, so it’s going to be tough to defend us.”

Monika Czinano finished with 17 points and McKenna Warnock added 16 points for Iowa.

IOWA REUNION

Clark was Miss Iowa Basketball 2020 and faced the state’s 2019 winner Zoe Young, a redshirt freshman for the Terrapins from Des Moines. Maryland coach Brenda Frese is a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa: The schedule does not get any easier for the Hawkeyes, who are playing a stretch of five games in 11 days that includes two other ranked teams: No. 12 Michigan and No. 11 Indiana. Iowa can boost its postseason prospects with a strong finish to the regular season.

Maryland: The Terrapins have done a solid job sharing the basketball and avoiding costly mistakes. Maryland is second in the NCAA in assist/turnover ratio (1.60), which has led to several dominant victories. The Terrapins scored 22 points off 16 turnovers by the Hawkeyes.

UP NEXT:

Iowa: hosts No. 12 Michigan on Thursday.

Maryland: travels to Purdue on Thursday.

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More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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