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Maryland women's basketball - Terps advance to B1G tourney semifinal with 70-60 win over Michigan State

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What can Brown do for you? Sophomore guard has a season-high 27 points as Maryland wins its first-ever Big Ten tournament game, 70-60, over Michigan State to advance to the semifinals.


The outside temperature was barely into double digits, but things heated up quickly (sort of) in the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, in Game 7 of the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament -- otherwise known as the first of the day's four quarterfinals -- in the third meeting between the Maryland Terrapins and the Michigan State Spartans. The Terps ran out to an early 7-0 lead, holding the Spartans scoreless until Aerial Powers made two free throws with 16:03 to play in the first half, en route to a 70-60 win and a trip to the Big Ten tournament semifinal.

First half - It could have been much more

Maryland's game plan was evident early. The Terps planned to run at every opportunity, press after made basketsand use their depth to wear down a depleted Michigan State squad playing its second game in as many days. "I thought  our start was really, really key," said Terrapins coach Brenda Frese after the game. "It was something we really stressed." The Spartans didn't score their first field goal until Powers made a short jumper in the lane with 12:39 to play at the start of what Frese called "one of our best 40 minutes defensively."

Early on, however, Maryland kept MSU close as the Terps turned over the ball five times in that same time span. Maryland continued to lock down on the defensive end, holding Michigan State scoreless for another three minutes, before Tori Jankoska scored on an offensive rebound. Kristen Confroy answered with a baseline jumper before the Spartans put together a mini 5-0 run leading into the under-eight minute media timeout at which point Maryland led 23-13.

Poor free throw shooting also prevented the Terps from building a larger margin. The Terps made only two of their first five free throws and Powers' three pointer followed by the Terrapins' seventh turnover of the half gave Michigan State the ball trailing 27-18 with 3:58 to play.

Out of the timeout, Kennedy Johnson scored back-to-back baskets, becoming the first Spartan to score other than Powers or Jankowska. Maryland continued to get a lift from Confroy off the bench. Frese had kind words for her freshman's poise, "Kristen did a tremendous job coming in with her first tournament experience." Her short jumper after a steal by Brionna Jones opened Maryland's lead back to nine and she would finish with six points and three rebounds in 28 minutes, relieving Laurin Mincy and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough who had some foul trouble throughout. Lexie Brown scored after the Terps forced a shot clock violation.

The bucket gave Brown a team-leading 15 points for the half. The Spartans made a pair of free throws and Maryland couldn't convert on the last possession as the Terps carried a nine-point lead, 33-24, into intermission. Powers led MSU with 14 points for the period.

The Terrapins held the Spartans to 28.6 percent shooting for the half and held a 20-16 margin on the boards against a scrappy Spartans squad.

Second half - Opening it up and closing it down

Michigan State opened the second half with possession and Walker-Kimbrough picked up a steal that she converted into a layup on the Terps' first possession and scored on a free throw line jumper after grabbing a rebound before picking up her third foul allowing Powers to convert a traditional three-point play that cut the lead to 37-27.

The Spartans converted on one of two straight Maryland turnovers to bring the gap to single digits. After a pair of free throws by Brown, Powers converted the front end of two free throws and grabbed the offensive rebound on her second shot. The Terps got the defensive stop but Jones missed twice inside and a baseline jumper pulled Michigan State back within seven, 39-32, with Brown headed to the line when the teams returned to the court following the half's initial media timeout.

Powers followed a basket by Mincy with another three-point play and MSU was within six. Walker-Kimbrough returned to the lineup to make one of two from the line and Brown converted a pair after a steal out of the half court trap. The Terps picked up another steal and Mincy scored on an offensive rebound before Powers made a pair of free throws to slow the Terps' momentum.

Maryland continued to ratchet up the pressure. Jones scored in the low post with an assist from Walker-Kimbrough after perfectly sealing off her defender. Jones got a steal that led to a Brown breakaway on an assist from Brene Moseley. The Terps led 52-39 and Michigan State called timeout.

Moseley scored twice to stretch the Terrapins lead to 60-41 but the Spartans weren't quite done. A corner three by Lexi Gussert  and a free throw by Cara Miller narrowed the spread to 15. Back-to-back three pointers by Jankoska sandwiched a pair of Moseley free throws and MSU inched closer still at 62-51.

Frese, unhappy with her team's defensive effort, called a timeout and Moseley scored on a baseline floater. Walker-Kimbrough added a pair of free throws before fouling out with nine points and six rebounds with just less than five minutes to play. At the final media timeout, Maryland led 68-53.

After struggling from the line in the first half, the Terps were money from the charity stripe in the second making 15 of 16. Frese, knowing the Terps would advance, put her team on cruise control for the closing minutes as Maryland closed out the quarterfinal win.

Brown was the only Terp to score in double figures and added seven steals to her impressive day. Jones and Walker-Kimbrough each added nine and Moseley eight off the bench.