Maryland women’s basketball used a second-half surge to defeat Northwestern, 71-58, in its first Big Ten matchup of the season.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Maintaining momentum after a strong start has been a struggle for Maryland this season. This trend persisted against Northwestern, with the Wildcats quick to adapt to Maryland’s offensive patterns.
In the opening quarter, the Terps capitalized on a half-court press, generating four steals and converting them into eight points. However, while the pace remained high in the second quarter, Maryland’s offensive efficiency dwindled.
Maryland faced difficulties executing its offensive plays, resulting in minimal scoring opportunities. Only three players contributed points for the team throughout the entire quarter. Northwestern’s defense adapted, double-teaming perimeter shooters and forcing rushed decisions.
The Terps grappled with five turnovers, especially within the paint. Struggling with shooting accuracy and limited ball movement, Maryland heavily relied on free throws. During the frame, it went 5-for-8 from the line, with forwards Faith Masonius, Allie Kubek and Emily Fisher accounting for all the attempts.
“I was disappointed in our first half. And I just felt like we weren’t playing to what we needed to do,” Sellers said. “We were gonna go in tied at half and that didn’t really sit right with me.”
Third-quarter defense sealed the deal
In the second half, the Terps held the Wildcats to a mere 25 points, with a standout performance in the third quarter — where they limited Northwestern to a remarkable six points.
Emerging from halftime, Maryland found itself in a tight contest, with its opponent matching its intensity both in rebounding battles and fast-paced transitions. However, a swift shot-clock violation and an injection of energy at the start of the second half shifted the momentum decisively.
“I thought the response was really good in the third quarter, which, you know, says a lot about this team,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “They took great accountability and that’s who they are.”
In the third quarter, the Terps exhibited exceptional defense, holding the Wildcats to a mere 3-for-16 shooting. Switching frequently on the perimeter to counter high screens and occasionally employing a three-big lineup of Masonius, Kubek and Fisher, Maryland dominated the rebounding battle and restricted Northwestern to just two second-chance points.
Bri McDaniel played a pivotal role, igniting fast breaks off turnovers and drawing numerous offensive fouls.
“I thought [McDaniel] really, you know, took advantage in that third quarter,” Frese said. “She was disciplined, you know, defensively and you can always feel her motor.”
The team’s balanced lineup facilitated a half-court press efficiently, allowing seamless rotations and intercepting passes across the court.
Maryland’s defensive adjustments yielded six turnovers and forced six personal fouls in the quarter, showcasing an impressive change in strategy, unity and teamwork.
Allie Kubek is the team’s X-factor
The Terps attempted just 11 three-pointers Sunday, marking their lowest count this season. Brinae Alexander faced early foul trouble, managing only 1-for-5 shooting from downtown. It was then that Kubek rose to the occasion.
Since earning a spot in the starting lineup, Kubek has seamlessly integrated into one of Maryland’s top performers. She showcased her prowess yet again against Northwestern, notching a game-high 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting and securing four rebounds.
Kubek stood out as the sole Maryland player with more than one shot attempt, to shoot over 50 percent from the field. Her finesse around the basket not only leads to and-one opportunities, but also provides an easy outlet for her teammates. Her positioning and post proficiency have noticeably improved throughout the season, indicating a refined game sense.
Additionally, Kubek augments Maryland’s offensive versatility with her ability to stretch the floor, as evidenced by her making her sole 3-point attempt against the Wildcats. Her consistent scoring presence, especially when the team faces shooting challenges, has emerged as a valuable asset for crucial moments.
“I don’t want to get too much in my head with my injury or just taking shots,” Kubek said. “Just continue to play my game and do what I know I can do. So that’s my mentality.”