In the two games that followed guard Blair Watson's season-ending ACL injury, the Maryland women's basketball team looked out of sorts. An upset loss to Michigan State preceded a narrow four-point victory over the Big Ten's third-to-last place team, Indiana.
The No. 14 Terps returned to form, though, as they upended No. 12 Ohio State on Monday, 99-69, gaining sole possession of first place in the conference.
Their offensive efficiency stood out, and coach Brenda Frese said Monday was Maryland's most complete performance of the season. The Terps (17-3, 6-1 Big Ten) hope to carry that momentum into their matchup with struggling Northwestern on Thursday night.
"You're going to have some holes that just take time," Frese said. "What I love about this team is that they just keep trusting and putting their head down and working."
Watson is still No. 19 in the nation with 63 3-pointers made despite playing fewer games than anyone else in the top-50. But against the Buckeyes, the Terps showed signs of immense improvement, which could continue against the Wildcats (9-12, 2-5).
After shooting an average of 44.3 percent from the field against Michigan State and Indiana, the Terps made 54.9 percent of their field goals against the Buckeyes. The point totals demonstrated the improvement from scoring 68 and 74 in the first two games before rocketing up to 99 in the third.
Guard Kristen Confroy praised Maryland's shot selection as a decisive factor in the quick turnaround.
"We're getting to that point where we understand how to find great shots and keep the ball moving," Confroy said. "Continuing to play off each other, knowing that because everyone on the court is a threat, we can keep moving the ball around so we get the best option."
Confroy's point was best demonstrated by guard Eleanna Christinaki, who earned her second-ever start Monday in place of Watson. The Florida transfer scored 26 points on 45.4 percent shooting, including six 3-pointers on 11 attempts.
Christinaki found gaps in Ohio State's defense and, along with Confroy, who had three triples, made up for Watson's absence.
She doesn't see her play as replacing Watson's production, though.
"When you lose a player like her, everybody contributes," Christinaki said. "It's not only me scoring, it's everybody."
Maryland's focus at the beginning of the season was on their remainingplayers after center Brionna Jones and guards Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Destiny Slocum.
The Terps only focused on what they had. Now, they've adopted the same mentality for winning without Watson, and that strategy is starting to pick up steam.
"We're not going to feel sorry about what we don't have," Frese said. "We're going to continue to talk about what we do have … when they're locked in … and care about each other's success and making the right plays, great things happen."