Maryland women’s basketball secured a spot in its third straight Big Ten championship game with a 100-89 win over Michigan State Saturday in Indianapolis.
Maryland’s seniors led the way again. Brionna Jones finished with 32 points, nine rebounds, and a career-high six assists, and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had 22 points. Destiny Slocum and Kaila Charles were both in double figures, with each scoring 18 points.
The Terps had another efficient game offensively, shooting almost 60 percent from the field and hitting on eight of their 14 three point attempts.
The Spartans also were strong on offense, shooting 53 percent from the field. Senior Tori Jankoska led Michigan State with 31 points, and Branndais Agee added 24 points. The duo was lethal on three-pointers, combining to shoot 11-of-22.
The Spartans got out to a 10-8 lead thanks to two threes from Jankoska, but the Terps immediately responded with a 10-0 run. Walker-Kimbrough capped it off with a three to give Maryland an 18-10 lead, but the Spartans responded with a 7-0 run of their own to cut the Terps’ lead to one.
Slocum missed a three with time winding down in the first quarter, but Brianna Fraser had a putback to stop the run and give Maryland a 20-17 lead.
After shooting 57 percent in the opening frame, the Terps shot a blazing 78 percent in the second quarter. Charles gave Maryland a spark at the beginning of the quarter, stealing the ball from Victoria Gaines and getting a layup on the next to give the Terps a 32-23 lead.
Like the first quarter, Michigan State battled back, and two free throws from Taryn McCutcheon cut the Terps’ lead to 33-30 with 4:55 to go. But Maryland closed out the half strong, with Jones and Walker-Kimbrough accounting for 12 of the Terps’ final 14 first-half points to take a 47-34 lead at the half.
Maryland’s lead grew to 15 early in the third quarter, but the Spartans clawed their way back into the game, cutting the lead to six with 5:47 to go in the third after a three from Jankoska.
The Terps pushed the lead back up to 10, but Michigan State cut it to six again when a three from Agee made it 66-60 with 59 seconds remaining. Maryland once again closed out the quarter in strong fashion, scoring the last five points, with Slocum hitting a deep three to end the quarter.
Michigan State cut the lead to six again with 7:24 to go on another three from Jankoska, but would get no closer. Blair Watson hit a free throw with eight seconds left to give the Terps the century mark and the record for most points in a Big Ten Tournament game.
Three things to know
- The first half belonged to Walker-Kimbrough, but the second half belonged to Brionna Jones. Walker-Kimbrough led the way in the first half with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, continuing her hot streak from Friday against Minnesota. Walker-Kimbrough slowed down in the second half, going 2-for-10, but Jones took over. She scored 21 points in the second half, and was able to score at will.
- Threes kept Michigan State in the game. Both teams had strong shooting nights, but Michigan State was exceptional from beyond the arc. The Spartans shot 12-of-29 on threes, and were shooting over 50 percent for part of the game. Some of them were wide open, but many were from well beyond the three-point line.
- An unlikely opponent awaits in the championship. When the bracket was released, almost everyone thought Maryland would meet Ohio State in the title game. But Purdue had different plans, upsetting the Buckeyes 71-60 to advance to the title game. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday.