Maryland women’s basketball continued its perfect Big Ten season Sunday with an 80-71 home win over Rutgers.
The No. 3 Terps (19-1, 7-0) continued their recent trend of keeping the game close before finding another gear in the second half. Maryland shot 45 percent before the intermission and 60 percent on the other side. Rutgers made a run against the Terps’ bench late in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late.
Kaila Charles led all scorers with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting; the freshman added seven rebounds. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough chipped in 17 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Rutgers’ zone made life difficult for the Maryland offense for a long while, forcing 10 first-half turnovers and keeping the Terps at bay from long range. The Scarlet Knights made a point of doubling Brionna Jones, who had her lowest-scoring game since Dec. 4.
However, Jones still extended her double-double streak to 10 games, finishing with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Maryland won the rebounding battle 41-27, and even that number leveled out a little in garbage time.
Rutgers’ Jazlynd Rollins was the breakout star of the first half, leading all scorers with 15 points. Rollins entered the game averaging 2.1 points for the season and 0.9 in conference play, but made all six of her first-half field goals, including three triples. She regressed in the second half and didn’t score the rest of the way. Srita Parker led the Scarlet Knights with 17.
Both teams struggled to find an offensive rhythm for much of the first half. The Terps led 14-13 after the first quarter, and the score was just 22-18 with 2:30 remaining in the second. Maryland missed its first seven three-point attempts and had 10 turnovers in the first half, but forced eight on the other end.
Miraculously, the game turned into a three-point barrage at the end of the first half. Rutgers went 4-for-4 from deep to close the half, with three of those buckets coming from Rollins. Slocum drilled the Terps’ first three of the game with 2:04 left in the half and connected on another just before the halftime buzzer. Maryland led 34-30 at the break.
Once again, the Terps emerged from the locker room as a much more energetic team. They shot 10-of-13 from the floor and 3-of-5 from three in the third quarter; in a related story, they won the period 26-13.
Rutgers couldn’t make much of a dent in that lead during the fourth, and the end of the game was drama-free. Brenda Frese emptied her bench in the waning minutes, which backfired when Rutgers went on a 12-2 run to cut the lead to eight in the last minute. Still, the Terps were never really in danger.
Three things to know
1. Maryland broke away in the third quarter again. The Terps led just 34-30 at the half, but quickly turned that into 43-32 and then 55-34. This bears a striking resemblance to last weekend’s game against Iowa, when the Terps turned a 47-43 halftime deficit into a 71-59 lead through three.
2. Blair Watson isn’t gone from the rotation. The freshman didn’t play Thursday against Michigan, but entered in the first quarter Sunday. She only played five minutes and didn’t score, but the fact that Frese inserted her with the game still close suggests that the rotation could be up to nine deep going forward.
3. The Brionna Jones milestone tour continues. With two blocks Sunday, the senior ties Jessie Hicks for fifth in Maryland history. Jones is also just outside the top 10 on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,618 points; she entered Sunday 15 points shy of Lynetta Kizer and is now just four away. While we’re on this topic, Walker-Kimbrough currently sits in seventh, 39 points behind Shay Doron.