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Maryland women’s basketball pulls away for 77-57 NCAA Tournament win over Princeton

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The Terps advance to the Round of 32.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament- Maryland vs Nebraska Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

RALEIGH, NC — Maryland women’s basketball is moving on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Terps used a 19-6 third quarter run to break the game wide open and take down Princeton, 77-57.

Like it’s been for most of the season, Kaila Charles led the way, finishing with 20 points and five rebounds, including 14 points in the second half. Eleanna Christinaki had her best offensive performance in a month, scoring 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Kristen Confroy also scored in double figures, finishing with 14 points.

No. 5-seed Maryland played solid defense and held No. 12-seed Princeton to 37 percent shooting, while also dominating the boards. The Terps outrebounded the Tigers, 43-25, and only a gave up an offensive rebound on 21 percent of Princeton’s missed shots. Maryland also did a good job keeping Bella Alarie in check, as the Ivy League Player of the Year finished with 12 points and six rebounds and looked rattled throughout the second half.

Maryland controlled the tempo in the first quarter, and Princeton initially looked out of sorts. After Sydney Jordan scored on a layup on the opening possession, the Tigers got called for back-to-back 10-second violations and a shot clock violation on the next three trips. The Terps took advantage, getting a three from Christinaki and two from Confroy to jump out to a 9-2 lead.

Maryland was in control for most of the first half, but Princeton was always lurking. In the first quarter, the Terps had 15 rebounds compared to the Tigers’ 5 and had 12 second chance points, yet only led 17-11 due to six turnovers and missed layups.

Charles drove through traffic for a layup with 3:21 left in the second quarter to extend the lead to 27-17, which was the last field goal for Maryland in the first half. Sarah Myers scored the Terps’ last four points on free throws and Princeton started to execute in transition to cut the lead to 31-26 at halftime.

Christinaki started the second half with a behind the back pass to Stephanie Jones, who finished the second chance opportunity. Maryland made another fancy play almost two minutes later, with Channise Lewis hitting Charles with a no-look pass for a layup to push the lead to 11. The Terps scored the first eight points of the third quarter to extend the lead to 13, and held the Tigers scoreless for the first four minutes.

Princeton scored two straight baskets to cut the lead to nine, but unlike in the first half, Maryland shut the door with an 11-2 run. Charles started to have her way, scoring 11 points in the third quarter, and the Terps led 53-36 heading into the final frame.

The Terps shot 56 percent in the second half, and led by as much as 26 in the fourth quarter.

Maryland will take on the winner of No. 4-seed NC State and No. 13-seed Elon in the second round on Sunday.

Three things to know

  1. Maryland was too much for Princeton in the second half. In the first half, it felt like the Terps left a few points out there. That changed in the second half, as Maryland attacked and finished around the rim while continuing to hit shots from the perimeter.
  2. Sarah Myers played her most important minutes of the season. Channise Lewis picked up her second foul with nine minutes to go in the second quarter, and Brenda Frese inserted Myers to help run the offense. Maryland kept Princeton at bay during that time, and the sophomore scored the Terps’ last four points of the half.
  3. You can’t keep Kaila Charles down for long. The All-Big Ten sophomore looked off to start the game, scoring her first points on free throws with 4:55 in the second quarter. But once she got going, Princeton had no answer.