Owusu scores 24, leading No. 9 Maryland past Minnesota 94-62

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland coach Brenda Frese dismissed the notion that her team is peaking, and she’s confident the Terrapins can get even better for the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

That’s a scary thought for their opponents.

Ashley Owusu scored 24 points with eight assists and No. 9 Maryland completed a season sweep of Minnesota with a 94-62 victory Saturday.

Diamond Miller added 20 points with three steals and Katie Benzan finished with 17 points for the Terrapins, who have won five consecutive games by an average of 35 points.

“I think we always have more, great basketball to play,” Frese said. “Sometimes we have those spurts where we drop off, so that’s the area that we’re trying make sure we tighten up. I will say I love where this team is going. (Defense) is where we’ve made the greatest growth. This team can really score the basketball.”

Maryland (16-2, 12-1 Big Ten) stifled Minnesota with its pressure and scored 23 points off 13 turnovers.

Kadi Sissoko led Minnesota (7-11, 6-10) with 16 points and seven rebounds. Sissoko has scored in double figures 12 times this season.

Maryland beat Minnesota 90-73 on Jan. 14 and has won all six games in the series.

Chloe Bibby added 10 points for the Terrapins, who shot 55%.

Maryland played up-tempo and a layup by Benzan provided a 33-13 lead midway through the second quarter before Minnesota’s Jasmine Powell scored and Sissoko responded with back-to-back field goals. Two free throws by Miller gave the Terps a 49-25 lead at the break.

“I playing really hard and not letting little things get to me,” Miller said.

A 3-pointer by Taisiya Kozlova gave Maryland a 70-37 lead late in third quarter and Frese was able to freely rotate the lineup.

The Terrapins took advantage of their size and outscored the Golden Gophers 44-26 inside the paint and outrebounded them 33-28.

“We didn’t (lose) any momentum going into quarters by getting great stops,” Frese said. “That’s where I am really, really excited, now we’re playing both ends of the floor and that’s what you have to be ready to have for March.”

INJURY UPDATE

Maryland sophomore Mimi Collins was hit in the head in the third quarter and required stitches, and there will be ongoing tests with a concussion. “She’ll continue to be evaluated,” Frese said.

NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP

Miller has increased her scoring by 10 points per game as a sophomore, averaging just over 17 for Maryland. She has started all 18 games and is shooting almost 50% from the field in Big Ten play. “I think I’m just developing to be a really good player,” Miller said. “I want to continue to grow.”

THE RIGHT TOUCH

Powell entered the game as one of only four players in the country averaging at least 15.5 points and 5.7 assists. The others are Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers and Owusu.

BIG PICTURE

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers have played better over the second half of the season, but they still have to play stronger defense to compete with upper echelon teams like Maryland, which had just two turnovers.

Maryland: The Terrapins are the highest-scoring team in the nation, but their defense has been just as good the past month. Maryland was especially effective against Minnesota with its traps and pressure, forcing four shot-clock violations.

UP NEXT

Minnesota: Closes the regular season with two home games, beginning Wednesday against Nebraska.

Maryland: Hosts Iowa on Tuesday as a makeup game for Jan. 21 game that was postponed out of caution for player safety following the presidential inauguration.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.