COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Since Angel Reese broke a bone in her foot on Dec. 3, she’s become the Maryland women’s basketball team’s unofficial team cheerleader. Every game she can be find shouting encouragements, jumping out of her seat and bopping up and down the sidelines - even when she was in a boot and could only stand on one foot.
Reese had plenty to celebrate Tuesday as the No. 8-ranked Terps put on an offensive show led by a record-breaking performance Katie Benzan, a graduate transfer from Harvard. The diminutive 5-foot-6 senior from Wellesley set a program single-game record with nine 3-pointers as the Terps never trailed in a 111-93 win over Iowa inside the Xfinity Center.
The 111 points marked the fifth time Maryland has surpassed 100 points this season and the two teams hit 32 3-pointers, the most combined in a Division I game this season.
“Man, that first half was like a game I’ve never seen before,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “Our staff was honestly stunned at halftime. We didn’t tell the girls that. I’ve never been part of a game like that. I can’t wait to go back and watch the game.
“The unselfishness, I think we had two turnovers at halftime. They just make so many easy plays for one another. Playing the game the right way. It had to be fun to be able to watch.”
The victory was the sixth in a row for Maryland (17-2, 13-1 Big Ten), but the icing on the cake came when the public address announcer declared at the 3:26 mark of the first quarter that Reese was entering the game.
With Reese’s return Tuesday, the rich just got richer as the No. 1 scoring team in the nation that’s on pace to break the program points-per-game record added the No. 2 recruit in the country two weeks from the start of the postseason.
Maryland put on an offensive display rarely seen during a 41-point first quarter as it used a 19-3 run to take a 27-9 lead while knocking down six 3-pointers during the stretch. Three of those triples came off the picturesque release of Benzan, who tied the program record with eight 3-pointers against Arkansas on Nov. 29. She was 5 for 5 from behind the arc in the first quarter and tied her own record before halftime with an 8-for-9 effort. The Terps led 68-51 at halftime.
“At halftime, when my teammates were just amazed, I guess,” said Benzan on when she knew she was hot. “I can’t put it in words. I just read the defense and today they played a zone, which opened the 3-point line for all of us. The shots just went down and we play with such a great point guard in Ash, who finds the open person every single time.”
Benzan, a two-time Globe All-Scholastic and Independent School League MVP, snatched the record with her ninth of the day in the fourth quarter when Ashley Owusu kicked the ball out to the left corner, Benzan pump faked a defender, took one dribble to the right and let if fly. Nothing but net, literally, for her career-high 29th point.