No. 5 Maryland defeats No. 18 Rutgers 80-69
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Maryland had far easier wins this season, yet few - if any - provided coach Brenda Frese as much satisfaction and joy as this one against Rutgers.
Lexie Brown scored 19, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 17 and the fifth-ranked Terrapins remained unbeaten in the Big Ten with their 16th consecutive victory, 80-69 over No. 18 Rutgers on Tuesday night.
Four Maryland players reached double figures in scoring and reserve freshman A'Lexus Harrison grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds.
''That was just a lot of fun,'' Frese said. ''I enjoyed seeing the work that we displayed together, the unselfish play. The poise, the toughness and the confidence that you had to have in his game was tremendous.
''Obviously, different players contributing throughout the entire game, that's what makes us so special.''
Maryland (22-2, 13-0) let a 12-point lead dwindle to 52-48 before Brown connected from beyond the arc to spark an 11-2 run that made it 63-50 with nine minutes left.
The victory moved the Terrapins one step closer to becoming the first team since Purdue in 1998-99 to finish with an unblemished record in Big Ten play. Maryland's last loss was against Notre Dame on Dec. 3.
Malina Howard had 15 points and Laurin Mincy added 14 and for the Terrapins, who had four players play at least 35 minutes and four with at least three assists.
''Being unselfish as a team is why we're 13-0 in the conference,'' Frese said.
Brown said: ''When everyone's contributing, that's when we have the most fun. When we're all playing together, getting everybody involved, we're almost unstoppable.''
Betnijah Laney scored 22 and Kahleah Copper had 19 for the Rutgers (18-6, 9-4). The Scarlet Knights had won six straight since falling at home to the Terrapins on Jan. 15.
''First of all, let's recognize that Maryland is an outstanding team,'' Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. ''But it could have been a little different if we hit some basic 10-foot, 12-foot jumpers that were clean. But we didn't.''
The Scarlet Knights shot 41.5 percent from the floor, well below their 44 percent average.
Rutgers made it interesting, but in the end simply could not compete with Maryland's size and depth. The Terrapins outscored the Scarlet Knights 36-28 in the paint despite playing most of the first half without foul-plagued center Brionna Jones.
Walker-Kimbrough scored 15 points before halftime, and the Terrapins erased an early deficit to go up 37-29 at the break.
Jones picked up two fouls in the opening 2 1/2 minutes and quickly took a seat on the bench. As a result, Rutgers controlled the boards in taking a 17-12 lead.
The Terrapins responded with five straight baskets to move in front for good.
It was 24-19 when Mincy launched a 30-footer as the shot clock was about to expire. Not surprisingly, the shot found the bottom of the net.
Maryland then sandwiched six free throws around a layup by Ariel Butts to extend its run to 21-4 and put Rutgers in a 33-21 hole.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights fell to 3-5 against Top 25 teams, including 0-2 vs. Maryland. ... Laney finished with six rebounds, ending her run of four straight double-doubles. Stringer said of the 6-foot forward: ''I have never seen a player make sure a transformation from her freshman year to her senior year, and be as dominant a player.'' ... Rutgers slipped to 10-2 on the road this season. The other loss was at Ohio State.
Maryland: The Terrapins improved to 186-32 at home in 13 seasons under coach Brenda Frese. ... Maryland had seven steals, just under its average of 9.4 per game.
Rutgers: Copper has found her shooting eye of late, scoring 21 against Purdue on Jan. 29 and a season-high 25 against Penn State last Sunday before coming up large against the Terps. The 6-1 forward went 8 for 16 from the floor, made all three of her foul shots and added a team-high eight rebounds.
Maryland: Brown made all three of her shots beyond the arc to help Maryland pull away. ''Big Shot Brown comes and nails the 3s that I thought really put the exclamation point on the game,'' Frese said.
Rutgers hosts Purdue at noon on Saturday.
Maryland travels to Michigan State on Monday, Feb. 16.