Maryland women's basketball advanced to another Big Ten championship game by defeating the Northwestern Wildcats, 83-62, on Saturday afternoon.
The Terps, ranked No. 6 in the nation and the top seed in the tournament, took down the Wildcats for the third time this season. Maryland has now eliminated Northwestern in the conference semifinals in consecutive years.
Brionna Jones led the way with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 7-of-8 shooting from the floor. Tierney Pfirman also notched 17, but five Terps reached double figures overall: Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had 15, Kristen Confroy 14 and Brene Moseley 13. The team shot 52.5 percent and had a plus-11 margin on the glass, which is a lethal combination.
The Terps gained separation early, using an 12-0 run over a three-minute stretch in the middle of the first quarter. This run put Maryland up 19-8, and the lead was 25-14 at the end of the period. To make matters worse for Northwestern, Christen Inman picked up three fouls in the first 10 minutes.
Maryland scored the first 6 points of the second quarter, which brought the margin to 17 points, but then missed nine straight shots and watched the Wildcats go on a 10-0 run of their own. Malina Howard ended the slump with back-to-back buckets, but the Terps only led 37-30 at the half. Coffey had 16 points in the first half, more than half of the Wildcats' total.
Coffey joined Inman in foul trouble purgatory early in the third, but Maryland had already hit the ground running. The Terps expanded the lead to double digits in the opening minutes of the quarter, and it remained such throughout. By the end of the period, four Terps were in double figures and the advantage was 59-46.
Maryland kept rolling and iced the game in the fourth. The team opened the quarter on a 12-2 run; a Confroy three during this stretch stretched the lead beyond 21 points for the first time. The last eight minutes or so were all but a formality; Brenda Frese pulled the starters with a few minutes left to avoid any injuries. Moseley reached the 1,000-point milestone on a late free throw.
In the loss, Nia Coffey recorded 31 points on 13-of-26 shooting. She finishes the week with 100 points, which breaks Peggy Evans' Big Ten tournament record of 96 for Ohio State in 1995.
The Terps advance to the Big Ten championship game for the second year in a row. They'll play either Ohio State or Michigan State, who square off one week after a triple-overtime classic. The final will tip off Sunday at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN.
Three things to know
1. Brene Moseley reached the 1,000-point mark. The Terps' point guard and Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year became the 32nd player in program history to reach the milestone, a list that Walker-Kimbrough and Jones joined earlier in the year. It's a big deal for the redshirt senior, who has overcome multiple injuries to reach this point.
2. Maryland's defense was superb. Northwestern shot just 34.8 percent from the floor, nearly 20 percent worse than the Terps. Ashley Deary, one of the conference's top point guards, missed all 14 of her shots and recorded only 2 points. Maryland also avoided foul trouble, which hindered the Wildcats immensely.
3. Northwestern's Cinderella run is over. The Wildcats are a talented team, but posted a 4-14 record in Big Ten play. The team entered the conference tournament as a 12-seed and promptly won three games in three days. Even more impressive was that these wins came without senior leader Maggie Lyon. In the end, however, the Terps were too much to handle.