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Recap: Alexander/Briggs duo stepping up in 28-point win over No. 6 shows just how dangerous No. 7 Maryland is

The Maryland Terrapins completely changed their defensive game plan from the last time they faced the Iowa Hawkeyes and shut down Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano. On offense, Brinae Alexander and Lavender Briggs led the way.

Iowa v Maryland
Brinae Alexander
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Brinae Alexander and Lavender Briggs were stars in the SEC. It was a big deal when each of them decided to transfer to Maryland. Yet, somehow, we forgot about them because they sacrificed their own scoring for the betterment of the No. 7 Maryland Terrapins.

On Tuesday night at XFINITY Center in College Park, Alexander went 6-of-9 from three with 24 points and Briggs went 3-of-3 with 19 points, as the Terps used a 22-2 run in the second quarter to set the tone for the rest of their game against the No. 6 Iowa Hawkeyes en route to a 96-68 victory.

The 28-point win coupled with a 36-point win over now-No. 16 Ohio State on Feb. 5 has everyone fearing the Terps (23-5, 14-3 Big Ten) right now. We’ve seen this before from Brenda Frese’s crew; they were arguably the hottest team in the country down the stretch of both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. With No. 4 UConn’s loss to unranked St. John’s Tuesday night, Maryland’s chances of moving up to the 1 line in the NCAA Tournament are increasing.

The Terps put all their defensive focus on shutting down National Player of the Year candidate Caitlin Clark and her co-star Monika Czinano, who scored 42 and 28 points, respectively, in a 96-82 Iowa win over Maryland on Feb. 2. The plan was effective as Czinano (four points) was held 13.8 below her season average and Clark (18 points) was held 9.3 below hers while the rest of the Hawkeyes shot 33.3 percent from the field. Maryland forced 24 turnovers and is 11-0 this season when forcing 20 or more.

Shyanne Sellers had perhaps the best game of anyone on the court with a near-triple-double of 17 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Expected WNBA lottery pick Diamond Miller added 16 points and three swipes, and the third member of Maryland’s big three, Abby Meyers, was good for eight points, nine boards, five helpers and three steals.

Alexander and Briggs’ point totals were both season highs. Alexander is averaging 8.5 points this year, but averaged a career-high 15.2 points per game last year with Vanderbilt. Briggs is averaging 6.9 this year, but averaged a career-high 19.7 in 2020-21 at Florida. It should be noted that Alexander’s 3-point shooting has been on all season for the Terps. Her 44.2 percent clip would be 10th in the nation if she had slightly more makes per game; she still has a great total of 50 makes in 28 games.

In addition to Alexander and Briggs’ phenomenal efforts from downtown, Meyers was 2-of-3 and Sellers was 3-of-7. Maryland was 14-of-26 as a team (53.8 percent). Miller was 8-of-8 at the stripe; Maryland was 14-of-15 as a team (93.3 percent).

The Terps trailed 20-19 after one and then won the second frame 27-8 to go up 46-28 at the break. The 22-2 run began when Meyers’ defender fell down and she calmly buried her first three of the contest to make it 25-22. Briggs followed with a three and then Meyers made her second, pushing it to 31-22. Later, a Meyers block led to a Briggs mid-range make and then Alexander capped the 14-0 portion of the run with a triple that made it 36-22.

Miller, who is Maryland’s leading scorer at 20 points per game, sat out during that 14-0 stretch with two early fouls.

After a Sydney Affolter offensive rebound-turned-layup cut it to 36-24, Maryland went on an 8-0 run featuring two Alexander threes and a Faith Masonius mid-range make, bringing the score to 44-24 at 3:56 remaining before halftime.

But the Terps knew the game wasn’t over at that point. Alexander went on a key 6-0 individual run in the third quarter that really solidified Maryland’s command of the contest. She hit a deep three that made it 59-38 at the 6:54 mark of the frame. Then, on a broken play, she received the ball on the left wing with no one near her. She took the wide-open three and the Maryland bench, which was on the same end of the court, and the XFINITY crowd seemed to freeze in anticipation. When it went down, the crowd erupted and Maryland gained it’s largest lead to that point at 24 with 6:19 remaining in the third.

Alexander made another great play when she worked her way around a crowd of black Iowa jerseys and made a floater that made it 73-49 with 16 seconds to go before the fourth. Miller provided another highlight when she converted on a pick-6 that made it 79-51 at the 6:42 mark of the final frame. Two minutes and 14 seconds later, a Meyers steal led to a Sellers 3-point play in transition. That gave the Terps a 30-point lead, their largest of the evening.

Gabbie Marshall shot 5-of-10 from deep for 15 points in defeat. Affolter added 14 points and eight boards. Iowa fell to 22-6 (14-3 Big Ten).

Maryland and Iowa were both No. 2 seeds in ESPN’s Tuesday Bracketology.