No. 8 Maryland beats Illinois 74-54 for 9th straight win
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) There were only a few moments during an otherwise lopsided win when No. 8 Maryland was pressed into a situation where it needed to show its grit, determination and superior talent.
On each occasion in, the Terrapins did just that.
Maryland overcame a slow start and a second-half lull to beat Illinois 74-54 Sunday and extend its winning streak to nine games.
Brionna Jones had a career-high 24 points with 14 rebounds for the Terrapins, who stumbled for more than three minutes before making their first basket and nearly gave the lead away after going up by 10 at halftime.
Maryland went 1 for 7 from the field with seven turnovers during the opening six minutes of the second half to allow the Illini to close to 42-39.
Following a timeout by Terrapins coach Brenda Frese, Jones made a layup, Kristen Conroy nailed a jumper and Brene Moseley hit a 3-pointer to boost the margin back to 10 points with 12:15 remaining.
After freshman Amarah Coleman answered with a jumper for the Illini, Moseley hit another shot from beyond the arc and Jones added a layup and two free throws to make it 56-41 with 9:34 left.
”What I do like about the character of this team is when we take a punch, then we’re going to punch back,” Frese said. ”We’re not going to just take it and let them continue. At different moments there are going to be different runs, and I love the fact that we don’t lose our poise and composure. We just understand what we need to do.”
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Lexie Brown each scored 13 for the Terrapins, the lone unbeaten team in Big Ten play.
Maryland (15-2, 6-0) hasn’t lost since Dec. 3, against then No. 1 Notre Dame. Since that time, the Terrapins have gone 5-0 at home and defeated three ranked teams on the road.
”That’s a really good basketball team. Really athletic,” Illinois coach Matt Bollant said.
Coleman scored a season-high 24 for Illinois (11-7, 2-4), which dropped its third straight. The Illini committed 27 turnovers and had three players finish with four fouls.
”The biggest difference in the game was our inability to take care of the basketball,” Bollant said.
Frese had a similar view.
”I think our depth was able to wear the out in the second half we really cranked up our defense,” she said.
Jones went 9 of 16 from the floor and was 6 for 9 at the foul line. The 6-foot-3 sophomore’s previous career high was 23, against Ohio State last month.
”I think it’s going to give me confidence moving forward to the rest of the season,” she said.
Illinois led 5-0 before Walker-Kimbrough made the final four baskets in a 12-point run that put the Terrapins ahead for good.
It was 25-18 before Walker-Kimbrough drilled a 3-pointer and Jones added a layup for a 12-point cushion.
Illinois: This was Illinois’ third straight game without leading scorer Ivory Crawford, all defeats. Crawford sustained a knee injury against Iowa on Jan. 8 and is expected to be sidelined 2-6 weeks.
Maryland: Walker-Kimbrough has scored in double figures in nine straight games following a four-game stretch in which she totaled 23 points. The 5-foot-11 guard didn’t start a game as a freshman yet twice was named ACC rookie of the week.
Illinois: The Illini came in leading the Big Ten in 3-point field goal defense, and that aspect of their game held true to form. Maryland went 3 for 16, including 1 for 9 in the first half.
Maryland: The Terrapins’ three 3-pointers tied a season low. Brown went 0 for 6 but had eight assists.
Illinois hosts Northwestern on Thursday.
Maryland hosts Michigan State on Thursday.