Despite leading for most of the second half, Maryland women’s basketball faced some adversity in the fourth quarter. The Terps’ double-digit-point lead had been cut to six with just over four minutes to go.
But neither team scored in the next minute, as Maryland slowed the game down and showed composure. Bri McDaniel drove to the basket and dished to a cutting Allie Kubek, who finished to give the Terps an eight-point advantage.
Kubek led the way for Maryland with 15 points, and her clutch bucket helped the Terps win, 72-64.
Maryland’s defense had one of its best performances of the season. The Terps forced Minnesota into over 20 turnovers, and the Golden Gophers shot 36.9% from the field and a measly 25% from three.
“I thought our defense set the tone,” said head coach Brenda Frese.
Maryland won without much of a presence on the glass. The Terps were out-rebounded 46-30, allowing Minnesota to grab 18 offensive rebounds to its six.
“We had 22 assists, 11 turnovers,” guard Shyanne Sellers said. “I feel like that’s where we have to keep being and that’s our main focus right now.”
Sellers scored 15 points and had eight assists, while Lavender Briggs came off the bench with 13 points. Minnesota guard Mara Braun scored 20 points and made six threes, but it wasn’t enough for a win.
Early on, the Terps couldn’t contain the Golden Gophers down low. Center Sophie Hart scored Minnesota’s first eight points, out-muscling Kubek and Brinae Alexander in front of the basket.
Hart only would score five points the rest of the game, with the team emphasizing preventing those types of buckets at the break. “Our focus [was] to always like, work hard inside try to make them lob it over us,” said Briggs.
Despite the struggles, Maryland stayed in striking distance for the whole first quarter, led by Kubek’s 3-for-5 shooting from three in the period. This allowed the Terps to go on a brief run to start the second quarter, taking their first lead of the game. They forced four turnovers in the first four minutes of the period and committed none of their own.
“When you have a big like Allie, and you can shoot the ball so well which she can, it kind of opens up the offense for us,” Frese said.
Maryland’s defense came up big to finish the first half, limiting Minnesota to just one made shot in the final three minutes of the second quarter. The effort gave Frese’s team needed time to settle in on offense, and as a result shots started to fall. A McDaniel three in the final minute of the half gave the Terps a 43-36 lead heading into halftime.
The Terps, who had been shooting 33.6% from three this season, shot 50% from behind the arc in the first half.
The Golden Gophers went on a 9-2 run to start the third quarter to tie the game back up, but the Terps would quickly take back the lead midway through the third quarter with their defense, forcing a few shot clock violations. They took it from there to victory.
Three things to know
1. Maryland was on fire from three. Heading into the game, Minnesota had limited opponents to just 30.6% shooting from three this season. However, the Terps shoot 44% from beyond the arc Wednesday.
2. Briggs had another big game. In Briggs’ second game back from injury, she continued to impress off the bench. In 36 minutes, she recorded 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field and five rebounds. She’s scored a combined 38 points since her return.
“I was injured, so it’s not fun to sit there and watch,” Briggs said. “So I knew when I came back that I was just gonna give it 100% effort every time I could touch the floor.”
3. Maryland finally won away from home. The Terps picked up their first road win of the season Wednesday. Maryland, which had lost its previous three road games, will need to stack road wins to build its NCAA Tournament resume.