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Maryland women’s basketball survives against Washington State, 79-69

The Terps trailed for a good portion of the game, but were able to grind out a win

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Michigan State vs Maryland Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

After dominating what was supposed to be its harder matchup yesterday against Arizona State, Maryland women’s basketball had a tougher time in a 79-69 win against Washington State.

After trailing for just 1:58 in their previous six games, the Terps trailed for over 20 minutes Saturday night. The Cougars pushed the lead to six in the first quarter, but Maryland didn’t have a lead larger than three until 7:24 left in the game.

Brionna Jones had 20 points and a career high 20 rebounds, becoming the first Maryland women’s basketball player with 20 boards in a game since Tianna Hawkins had 24 against Wake Forest in 2012.

Kaila Charles had her most points in a Maryland uniform, with 19 points and five rebounds. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 15 points but shot an uncharacteristic 3-of-11 from the field.

Washington State shot just 39.7 percent from the field, but were able to stay in the game by going eight of 17 on three pointers. The Cougars got out to a blazing start from beyond the arc, going 6-for-9 in the first half before finishing just 2-for-8 in the second half.

The Cougars were also the first team to compete with Maryland on the boards, outrebounding the Terps 47-44. Maryland also struggled to contain sophomore all Pac-12 forward Borislava Hristova, who finished with 25 points.

But this game was won at the foul line. Maryland made 71 percent of its free throws, while Washington State made a putrid 33 percent. The Terps made 12-of-14 free throws in the final 4:47, effectively putting the game out of reach.

Marlyand had come out of the gate fast in previous games, but had its first slow start of the season Saturday, shooting just 31 percent from the field in the first quarter. Washington State led by as much as six, and ended the first quarter with a 20-16 lead.

The Terps cut the lead to one multiple times in the second quarter before finally taking a 34-33 lead on a Brionna Jones layup with eight seconds left in the half. It was the first lead for Maryland since it led 5-2 with 8:20 left in the first quarter.

But Hristova hit a free throw with 2 seconds left, and the teams went into the locker room tied at 34.

The third quarter featured more of the same, as neither teams was able to build a significant lead. There were nine lead changes in the third quarter alone, and a Kaila Charles layup with 23 seconds left gave Maryland a 53-52 lead heading into the final frame.

A layup from Brionna Jones gave the Terps a 61-57 lead with 7:24 to go, but Hristova tied it at 61 with 4:47 left. Charles gave Maryland the lead on a free throw 15 seconds later, which it would hold for good.

Three things to know

1. Brionna Jones was dominant. After imposing her will on most teams for a half, the senior showed what she could do if needed for the whole game. She finished with 20 points and 20 rebounds, the first 20-20 game for a Maryland player since Laura Harper had 24 points and 20 boards in a double-overtime win against Georgia Tech in 2008. Jones is nearly unstoppable in the post, and it showed on Saturday.

2. Turnovers are still a problem. After committing 14 turnovers yesterday, Maryland had 19 tonight. The Terps struggled with giveaways last season, and while their fast paced style can lead to a high volume of turnovers, it needs to clean up some of them if it wants to win games against tougher opponents.

3. Thursday will say a lot about where Maryland is at this point in the season. The Terps face their toughest opponent yet on Thursday when they take on No.4 Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. A win would be great, but a loss wouldn’t be bad as long as the Terps show they can compete against one of the top teams in the country.