Maryland women's basketball is back in the win column after a 73-59 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers at the Xfinity Center on Thursday night.
After falling to Ohio State in a nationally televised contest Monday night, the Terps needed a win to keep any semblance of hope for a regular season conference title alive. At the very least, it would serve as a shot of confidence. Perhaps Purdue was the perfect opponent. In the first meeting between these two teams on Feb. 2, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough poured in a career-high 41 points en route to a 20-point road win.
Thursday's performance was far less awe-inspiring, but the junior still led all scorers with 23 points. She was 7-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-4 from three, and also chipped in 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Brionna Jones had another double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Ashley Morrissette topped Purdue with 18 points.
Both teams got off to a lukewarm-at-best shooting start. The Terps were just 7-of-20 (35 percent) from the field in the opening period, while Purdue was an even worse 4-of-15 (27 percent). Maryland took a 16-11 lead into the second quarter, which the Boilermakers quickly slashed to 21-20, leading to a Brenda Frese timeout. The Terps picked it up after the break, finishing the half on a 14-7 run. Walker-Kimbrough led all scorers with 10 points at intermission, while Jones had 8 points and 9 rebounds.
The score was 35-27 at the half, and it remained there for the first several minutes of the third quarter. Purdue was missing shots, while Maryland was giving the ball away. When the teams relocated the bottom of the hoop again, the scoring was largely back and forth, but Maryland was able to inch slightly further ahead. Walker-Kimbrough scored 10 third-quarter points, almost enough to single-handedly top Purdue (11). The Terrapin lead was 51-38 entering the final quarter.
Maryland didn't really pull away in the fourth, but Purdue missed too many shots to climb back into it. The Boilermakers got within 7, but not until there were only 90 seconds remaining. Chloe Pavlech immediately responded with a three-point dagger for the Terps. The senior point guard's only field goal of the game was the one that sealed the deal.
The Terps, ranked No. 7 in the Coaches Poll released Tuesday, improve to 22-3 overall and 11-2 in the conference. Their next game will be Sunday afternoon at Northwestern.
Three things to know
1. The Terps never found a shooting rhythm. Despite another efficient performance from Walker-Kimbrough, the Terps shot just 39.3 percent from the field. It's their second-worst percentage of the season (the team shot .368 against South Dakota State). Maryland was actually better from outside the arc (7-of-17, 41 percent) than inside. Free throws were a big boost, however. The Terps were 18-of-21 at the line, while Purdue was just 4-of-7.
2. Both teams struggled with turnovers. This has been a problem for Maryland all year. The Terps gave the ball away 20 times, leading to 17 Purdue points. This number actually looks less hideous when compared to the 23 turnovers against Ohio State, but it's still bad. Purdue surely isn't happy with 18 giveaways, either. Several of the Terps' turnovers were on the clumsy side; my personal favorite was Walker-Kimbrough being so wide open on a three-point attempt that she traveled while stepping into it.
3. The team looked pretty tired. This was Maryland's sixth game in 16 days, which is rather dense for a college schedule. Perhaps more importantly, the Terps had just played Michigan State and Ohio State in consecutive games, which will sap anyone's energy. It didn't help that Coach Frese tightened the rotation and the Buckeyes played at a blistering offensive pace. This probably helps explain both of the other trends. It was far from the prettiest game of the year, but it was enough. On to Northwestern.