COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) From start to finish, it was a memorable night for No. 5 Maryland.
The Terrapins scored the first 10 points against Penn State and never trailed in a 65-34 rout Monday.
Afterward, the team was presented a sparkling trophy for winning the Big Ten regular-season title.
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It doesn’t get much better than that.
”I’m really, really proud of this group,” coach Brenda Frese said. ”Going into this season there were a lot of unknowns – young team, new conference. To be able to come out and play the way they have in these first 16 games is not easy.”
Maryland (25-2, 16-0) clinched first place Saturday night when Ohio State beat Iowa.
That doesn’t mean the Terps intend to coast to the finish in their inaugural Big Ten season.
With victories over visiting Indiana on Thursday and at Northwestern on Sunday, Maryland will become only the third Big Ten women’s team to go unbeaten in conference play, joining Ohio State (1984-85) and Purdue in (1998-99).
”We’re not done yet,” guard Laurin Mincy said.
Brionna Jones scored 11 of her 17 points in the decisive first half, which ended with Maryland up 35-14. After that, it was merely counting down the minutes until the trophy presentation.
It was the 19th straight victory for Maryland, its longest winning streak since a 21-game run in 1988-89.
Candice Agee led Penn State (6-21, 3-13) with 10 points and Lindsey Spann added eight, but she missed 12 of 16 shots.
Coach Coquese Washington acknowledged that the Lady Lions were no match for the deep, talented and NCAA tournament-tested Terrapins.
”They did a good job of mixing up their defenses. They’re No. 5 in the country for a reason,” Washington said. ”They’re a very good team, Brenda Frese is a very good coach and they play with a lot of confidence, especially at home. I have a high regard and a lot of respect for what they’ve done this year.”
The Lady Lions shot 25 percent in the first half and lost for the sixth time in seven games – a skid that includes a 77-62 defeat at home to Maryland earlier this month.
Mincy and Lexie Brown hit 3-pointers during the opening 10-0 spurt, and Penn State put itself in an imposing hole by missing three shots and committing three turnovers during its first six possessions.
”The first half, the turnovers were just a killer for us, especially early in the game,” Washington said. ”When you’re playing a team as dangerous as Maryland, giving them those kind of head starts is not going to be productive.”
The Lady Lions needed more than seven minutes to make their first field goal, a layup by Agee that made it 12-4.
Minutes later, Kristen Confroy made a 3-pointer to spark a 10-2 spree that put the Terrapins up 23-8.
Penn State went 6 for 24 from the field in the first half and seven different players combined for 15 turnovers.
Maryland, on the other hand, got points from eight players in the first half. The Terrapins had 10 steals – five by Brown – before halftime.
The margin swelled to 31 points at 57-26 with six minutes remaining.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS
Maryland finished with a 51-27 rebounding advantage and limited Penn State to six offensive boards.
”Our guards did a real good job of getting back and rebounding,” Frese said.
”They were quicker to the ball all night long on the rebounds,” Washington said.
Penn State: The defeat dropped the Lady Lions into a last-place tie with Purdue … PSU sophomore Peyton Whitted was excluded from the starting lineup for the first time in four games. She scored only 12 in her previous three outings and finished with two points in this one. … The Lady Lions were 14-8 against Maryland before this season.
Maryland: It was the fewest points allowed by Maryland since Wagner scored 24 on Nov. 16. … The Terrapins have won 25 straight against Big Ten foes, dating back to 2007. … Maryland finished with 14 steals, including five in the opening 6 1/2 minutes. The Terrapins came in averaging 9.2 steals per game.