COLLEGE PARK, Md. – – Brinae Alexander and Lavender Briggs were starters in the Southeastern Conference before being traded offseason to shore up a depleted Maryland squad, and they mostly came off the bench for the Terps .
Against Caitlin Clark and Iowa’s powerful offense, Alexander and Briggs showed just how deep and dangerous Coach Brenda Frese’s team can be.
Alexander scored a season-high 24 points and tied a career-high six 3-pointers, Briggs added a season-high 19 points while bottling Clark, and No. 7 Maryland inflicted on the No. 6 Iowa its worst loss of the season, 96 -68 Tuesday night.
“Really proud of those two,” Frese said. “When you look at our bench points, and the 43 bench points come from those two, it was absolutely the X factor. That’s why we dominated that game.
The Hawkeyes’ loss clinched the Big Ten regular season title for No. 2 Indiana, who visits Iowa on Sunday in the regular season finale for both teams.
Shyanne Sellers had 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Terrapins (23-5, 14-3 Big Ten), who held Iowa — the nation’s best and most successful team — for the season’s worst points and field goal percentage (34.8%).
Briggs was the main defenseman for Clark, who had 18 points, his second-lowest scoring game of the season. Gabbie Marshall had five 3s and scored 15 points for the Hawkeyes (22-6, 14-3).
“We really tried to take Caitlin out of the game. We played pressure for 40 minutes. I was chasing her all over the field, picking her up all over the field,” Briggs said. “It was really my goal to force her on the right because she likes to do everything on the left.”
Maryland has won five straight since falling 96-82 at Iowa on Feb. 2, a game that featured 42 points from Clark.
“They denied it, didn’t they?” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “They protected her the whole time, so that was great. They did a very good job. It was truly the best we have seen all year.
Alexander and Briggs, both spares, were so dominant that Maryland didn’t need much from leading scorer Diamond Miller, who committed his second foul early in the second quarter and played just 8 minutes in the first half time.
“I wanted to smother her, even though I would never do that. I love Diamond,” Frese said. “I was waiting to see if we were going to get her back and in that second quarter her teammates just took relay.”
Maryland took control with a 22-2 run in the second, a flurry that included three 3s by Alexander, and trailed by as much as 30 points in the fourth.
“Once I started knocking it down, I got hot, the basket was so open, like everything I threw up was going to go in,” Alexander said.
Miller came in very late and finished with 16 points.
The Terrapins held the Hawkeyes to 30.3 percent shooting overall and 20 percent (4 of 20) from 3-point range in the first half, including an airball from Clark whose Maryland Student Section took it. mocked for the rest of the game. She didn’t make another 3 until the fourth quarter. Maryland also made Monika Czinano a non-factor, keeping her to four points.
Maryland shot 47.9 percent overall and 53.8 percent (14 of 26) from 3-point range.
Clark has never won at the Xfinity Center, where she made a career-high nine 3-pointers as a rookie two years ago.
The Terps have won 10 of 11 overall and would finish second in the league if Indiana won on Sunday. Maryland improved to 11-5 against Iowa and 6-0 at home. The Terps are 11-2 at home this season and haven’t lost at College Park since Nebraska beat them Dec. 4.
Clark, a junior who turned 21 in January, is not eligible for the WNBA draft until next year under the league’s required age. Two key members of its supporting cast, Marshall and Kate Martin, announced this week that they would be returning to play their fifth seasons for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa: Hosts No. 2 Indiana on Sunday.
Maryland: At No. 16 Ohio State on Friday night.
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