For the third time in as many years, Maryland women’s basketball is the Big Ten champion.
The Terps earned a 74-64 victory over Purdue Sunday in Indianapolis to win the conference tournament. After the fifth-seeded Boilermakers kept it close for much of the first half, Maryland pulled away on the other side of the intermission. Purdue made a late run, but the No. 2-seed Terps held on to clinch the title.
Brionna Jones followed up Saturday’s 32-point performance with a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds, which included 18 points in the second half. She made 11 of 13 from the field and chipped in five blocks and three steals on the other end.
After four Terps tallied at least 18 points in the semifinal, Sunday’s scoring was much more balanced. Destiny Slocum was the only other player in double figures, notching 14. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who had been on a tear recently, never got it going, finishing with seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Ashley Morrissette and Andreona Keys led the Boilermakers with 18 points. The senior had 11 by the early second quarter, but didn’t score again until the waning seconds of the third. Andreona Keys added 15 points and six rebounds.
The teams went back and forth in the opening frame, with Purdue inching ahead at 14-12 before Slocum drained two threes to push Maryland in front, 18-14.
The freshman connected on another triple early in the second quarter to extend the lead to eight, but Purdue then went on an 8-0 run to tie the game. The Boilermakers would go on to take a 27-26 lead, but the Terps held them scoreless for the next four minutes and went on a run of their own.
Maryland went up double digits late in the second quarter before Purdue hit a pair of late threes, including a buzzer-beating bank shot by Dominique Oden that cut it to 39-35 at halftime.
The Terps went on another run midway through the third, though, scoring nine straight points to open up a 13-point lead at the media timeout. Purdue would never get within 11 points again.
Maryland led 57-46 entering the fourth quarter and scored the first seven points of the final frame. The lead stretched as high as 21 with just over six minutes left. The Boilermakers, who had everything to play for, made a push to cut it to 70-59 at the four-minute mark and forced four Maryland turnovers in a four-minute span. The comeback stalled there, though, as neither team lit it up down the stretch.
After the win, Jones was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while Walker-Kimbrough and Slocum joined her on the all-tournament team.
Three things to know
1. The streak rolls on. Maryland has been in the Big Ten for three seasons, and the Terps have earned at least a share of all three regular-season titles and won all three conference tournaments. Dodging Ohio State in the title game again made it easier, but that shouldn’t take away from the accomplishment.
2. Kristen Confroy had the quintessential Kristen Confroy game. The junior scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc (3-of-6 overall). She was the only Terrapin to play all 40 minutes, and added five rebounds and three assists.
3. Purdue was fighting for its NCAA Tournament life. The Boilermakers entered the game as ESPN’s Charlie Creme’s “last team in,” with Saturday’s win over top-seeded Ohio State pushing them over the line. They would have earned an automatic bid with another upset; instead, their fate is still up in the air. Maryland had its own business to take care of, and has most likely clinched a 2-seed. However, we won’t know any of this for sure until Selection Monday on March 13.