Maryland women’s basketball bounced back in its third Big Ten game of the season, defeating Minnesota on the road, 72-64.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Kubek’s ability to stretch the floor proved crucial
Allie Kubek, a redshirt junior, has consistently held a pivotal role in the Terps’ starting lineup throughout most of the season, contributing significantly as a crucial rebounder and a reliable post player.
However, her capacity to extend the floor hasn’t received ample attention. Wednesday night, it emerged as a vital component of the team’s offense.
Before the game, Kubek had only attempted 15 threes, successfully sinking six of them. She went 3-for-5 from distance against the Golden Gophers.
“It’s huge,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said of Kubek’s shooting. “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.”
From the outset, the Terps faced challenges in generating offensive separation. Minnesota’s interior size initially thwarted Maryland’s access to the paint, compelling it to take contested perimeter shots. Nevertheless, Kubek’s proficiency beyond the arc coerced the Golden Gophers’ interior defenders away from the basket.
Consequently, drives to the hoop became more accessible. This translated into a 10-for-16 shooting performance in the second quarter for the Terps, securing 14 points in the paint compared to a mere two points in the initial frame.
Defense helped separate the Terps in the third quarter
The third quarter didn’t showcase the Terps at their best — they managed only 15 points while shooting 7-for-17 from the field. Despite this, they successfully expanded their halftime lead, heading into the fourth quarter.
It was a clear testament to their phenomenal defensive display.
The Terps astutely recognized the Golden Gophers’ affinity for the 3-point shot. In the third quarter alone, Minnesota attempted eight shots, with five launched by sharpshooter Mara Braun. However, it only managed to convert two of those attempts during the period.
Minnesota’s lack of success beyond the arc also hampered its inside scoring. Maryland’s 1-2-2 zone defense proved formidable, effectively collapsing whenever a Minnesota player drove to the basket.
“Our focus is to always like, work hard inside, try to make them lob it over us,” Terps guard Shyanne Sellers said. “I think we really tuned in on that and just communicated more and got back on defense.”
Near the end of the quarter, Maryland forced back-to-back shot-clock violations. During one stretch, it also limited the Golden Gophers to just two makes in 14 attempts.
“We were speeding them up and trapping them and taking away that extra pass,” Sellers said. “So we got turnovers which led to us getting points in transition.”
A mistake-filled finish
Despite the Terps maintaining an eight-point lead — the same margin they held at the end of the third quarter — the fourth quarter was tighter than anticipated.
Around the midway mark of the quarter, Minnesota narrowed its deficit to four points. This surge was influenced by Maryland’s six turnovers, leading to several fast-break opportunities. They displayed an aggressive style, driving relentlessly and earning eight free throws during the quarter.
Maryland’s offense encountered difficulties, struggling to establish a consistent presence either inside or on the perimeter. Although it exhibited impressive ball movement around the edges, it faced challenges in finishing plays.
Ultimately, the Terps’ performance in the final quarter amounted to a 5-for-12 shooting mark. However, clutch free throws by Sellers sealed the deal.