Maryland women’s basketball is rolling, and with a 72-57 win over Northwestern on Pink Night Thursday, it has won six games in a row.
This game was over immediately, as the No. 10 Terrapins took the first lead of the game and never relinquished it. By the 3:29 mark of the first quarter, they had a 10-point advantage, and at the halftime break, they led by 21. The teams played more even in the second half, but it hardly mattered.
Entering play on Thursday, Sara Vujacic had averaged just 3.2 points per game, eighth on the team. The JuCo transfer had been getting more playing time recently due to her high level of energy, and against the Wildcats, she shone bright. In the second quarter alone, Vujacic scored 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting (including two three-pointers).
Stephanie Jones was superb once again for Maryland, as she led the team with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field while adding nine boards, a team-high as well. Joining her and Vujacic in double-figures were Kaila Charles and Taylor Mikesell, who had 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Maryland scored at will against Northwestern, thanks to its shooting prowess for the sixth straight game. The Terps shot 51.9 percent from the floor and hit 8 of 16 shots from beyond the arc. However, they were more careless with the ball than the Wildcats, losing the turnover battle 15-9.
For the first 7:48 of the game, Northwestern couldn’t hit a field goal. The Wildcats missed their first 12 shots from the floor, and managed to hit just 3-of-6 chances from the free-throw line. Abby Scheid finally scored her first points of the game on a layup at the 2:12 mark, and a three-pointer by Lindsey Pulliam gave their team a total of eight points at the end of the first quarter. Maryland, meanwhile, dominated from the get-go and led 22-8 after the opening period.
The second quarter was Vujacic’s time to shine, and she capitalized on the opportunity. She started the quarter’s scoring with a layup about 90 seconds in, and the she hit a three-pointer on the very next possession. Vujacic did exactly the same five minutes later, as she followed up a layup at the 3:39 mark with a triple with 3:05 to go in the half. Northwestern’s offense still struggled in the second quarter, adding just 12 more points, and Maryland continued its strong play, shooting 53.3 percent from the floor and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc to take a 41-20 lead into halftime.
While some could have expected Maryland to take its foot off the pedal coming out of the break, Brenda Frese’s team was firing in the third quarter, at least initially. The Terrapins started the half on a 6-0 run to raise the lead to 27 points, and it stayed above 20 up until the very end of the quarter. Thanks to a buzzer-beater from Abbie Wolf, the Wildcats cut the deficit to 19 entering the final quarter.
Northwestern came out with ferociousness to start the final quarter, but the lead was too large to cut into it substantially. The Terrapins matched the Wildcats score for score midway through the quarter to keep the lead at 20, and a late push from the visitors made the final score a bit more respectable.
Maryland will be back in action on Sunday, as the Terps hope to exact their revenge on No. 20 Rutgers in Piscataway. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET and the game can be watched on BTN2Go.
Three things to know
1. The defense was excellent. Maryland scored just below its conference average, so things were clicking normally on the offensive end. But against Northwestern, it was the defense that put the clamps on to get the blowout victory. The Wildcats shot just 36.2 percent from the floor on its way to a 57-point outing, but before Maryland’s defense let up in the second half, they had just 20 points after shooting at a 20 percent clip.
2. Stephanie Jones had a quiet, but great, showing. Jones went under the radar for most of the night, but she was dominant nonetheless. The junior forward was nearly perfect on Thursday, shooting 7-of-8 from the floor and hitting both of her free throws to lead the team with 16 points. Jones also added nine rebounds, which also led the Terps.
3. The Terps win on Pink Night. Thursday was Maryland’s annual Pink Night, which aims to raise awareness for breast cancer and celebrate the victims and survivors. The entire crowd was decked in pink and cheering with pom-poms as the Terps and Wildcats donned pink attire. And during Maryland’s introductions pregame, each player was introduced with a breast cancer survivor. It was an awesome atmosphere all night.