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Minnesota crushes Maryland women’s basketball, 93-74

The Terps dug themselves into a hole and never recovered.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Bridgeport Regional-Maryland vs Oregon David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in four years, Maryland women’s basketball has lost back-to-back games. The Terps struggled all afternoon, falling to Minnesota, 93-74, on Sunday in Minneapolis.

The Gophers picked Maryland apart on defense, using some early action in the paint to set up a blazing hot day from distance. Minnesota shot 52 percent from the field and 14-of-24 on three-pointers. Three Gophers scored 20 points or more, including freshman Destiny Pitts, who had 20 points and hit six three-pointers.

For the second straight game, Maryland couldn’t really get going on the offensive end. The Terps shot just 41 percent from the field, and couldn’t score or get enough stops to make it a game after the first quarter. Maryland shot just 27 percent on threes, and didn’t hit one in the second half.

Kaila Charles led the Terps with possibly the quietest 16 points, 14 rebounds and six assists of all time, and Stephanie Jones added 13 points despite being in foul trouble. Kristen Confroy scored 12 points in the first half, but like against Purdue, didn’t score the final 20 minutes.

As expected, it was a fast paced game from the start. Both teams went back and forth in the first few possessions, but Maryland was able to jump out to a 15-10 lead early in the first quarter. Minnesota answered with an 8-0 run, and started to take advantage of the Terps’ early foul trouble. Stephanie Jones and Brianna Fraser both picked up two fouls in the first quarter, and Aja Ellison missed today’s game attending her grandfather’s funeral, so Maryland was forced to go small. The Gophers outscored the Terps 12-4 in the paint in the opening frame, and led 24-19 after the opening frame.

Minnesota continued to push the tempo in the second quarter, and easily pushed the lead to double digits. After Confroy hit a three to cut the Gophers’ lead to 26-22, Minnesota went on a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 11. The Gophers were beating Maryland on both sides, especially on the offensive end. The Terps tried to stop Minnesota’s penetration after it got to the free throw line often in the first half, but that led to multiple wide open three-pointers. Minnesota took advantage, shooting 9-of-14 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Maryland tried to trap and got consecutive three-point plays to cut the lead to seven, but the Gophers broke it with ease and hit open threes on the next two possessions to push the lead back to 13. They led 53-39 at halftime.

Fraser hit a jumper to start the third quarter, but that was the closest the Terps would get the rest of the way. Minnesota had an answer for every Maryland bucket, and continued to push the lead with hot shooting from beyond the arc. It led by as much as 26 in the third quarter, and withstood a brief Maryland rally in the fourth to cruise to an easy victory.

Maryland is still in first place in the Big Ten, owning the tiebreaker over Ohio State at 11-3. The Terps are back in action Thursday at Michigan.

Three things to know

  1. After the opening minutes, this one was all Minnesota. This was an up-tempo game, and that worked to Minnesota’s advantage. The Gophers hit shots from inside and out, which led to many open looks all afternoon.
  2. The Gophers destroyed Maryland with three-point shooting. Minnesota shoots the most threes in the conference, and did enough to get open looks often. On some possessions, the closest Terp defender was all the way out in Montana, and the Gophers simply couldn’t miss.
  3. Maryland is picking the wrong time to go into a slump. At this point of the season, teams want to know more about who they are rather than still be figuring things out. Now just two weeks away from the Big Ten tournament, the Terps may have more questions than answers about who they are.