State hoops: No. 5 Terps women win 14th in row, 77-62 over Penn State
By Gene Wang
The Washington Post|
Feb 06, 2015 | 12:51 AM
|STATE COLLEGE, Pa.
The fifth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team continued its stampede through the Big Ten on Thursday night, shaking off a sluggish beginning to overwhelm Penn State, 77-62, and remain the only undefeated program in the conference.
The Terps (20-2, 11-0) won their 14th in a row to extend a season-long streak and moved one step closer to becoming the first Big Ten team since 1998-99 with a perfect conference record. Purdue went 16-0 on the way to the national championship.
Maryland also can become the first team in 30 years to go 18-0 in the Big Ten after ending a six-game losing streak to the Nittany Lions (5-18, 2-10) dating from 1997. On top of that, the Terps won for the first time on the road against their border rival to the north since 1991.
"A lot of unselfish play," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said of her team's 22 assists on 31 field goals. "I thought we moved the basketball extremely well on the offensive end, especially with [Penn State's] length. Nice to see us share the basketball."
Sophomore guard-forward Shatori Walker-Kimbrough returned to her home state and scored a game-high 21 points for Maryland. It was the 16th game this season in double figures for Walker-Kimbrough (10-for-14 shooting) after a run of 12 straight ended in Sunday's 93-88 victory over No. 16 Iowa in College Park.
Walker-Kimbrough is from Aliquippa, roughly 170 miles west of Penn State, and had family and friends in attendance among the announced 3,809 at Bryce Jordan Center.
So did Tierney Pfirman, who grew up an hour from State College. When Pfirman was a high school standout, the junior forward often drew comparisons to Kelly Mazzante, a former Penn State All-American also from Williamsport. Mazzante went on to score more points than any player, male or female, in Big Ten history.
Pfirman had nine points and five rebounds in 20 minutes, receiving a standing ovation at the end of the game from the many supporters who sat behind the Maryland bench.
"It took me back to my high school days," said Pfirman, who celebrated her 21st birthday Wednesday night with family. "Being able to come home and have the opportunity to play in front of them is definitely great because they supported me throughout my high school career. It's always nice to come home and showcase what Maryland's about and just how we play."
The Terps were on their heels in the early going in their second of four games in nine days. Midway through the first half, they had more turnovers (five) than field goals (four) and offered about as much energy as the seemingly uninterested crowd. Penn State took advantage with a 10-2 run for a 17-10 lead with 10:53 left until intermission.
But moments later sophomore point guard Lexie Brown (career-high 10 assists) stepped into a passing lane for a steal that ignited Maryland. The defensive stand led to a fast break to Walker-Kimbrough, who was fouled on a layup attempt. The Terps' second leading scorer made one of two free throws to start a 23-1 flurry that included a jumper from redshirt freshman forward A'Lexus Harrison (Digital Harbor) for a 19-17 lead with 7:42 left in the first half.
Maryland never trailed again during a stretch when it limited the Lions without a field goal for 7:34 with the help of full-court pressure. Frese also used 11 players in the first half that concluded with the Terps scoring six of the last eight points to head into the locker room ahead 41-24.
"We were just trying to find the openings," Walker-Kimbrough said. Penn State "came out great. We had kind of a slow start, but we picked it up throughout the half. I know we were down, but we've just got to come out a little better than what we did."
Elon 84, Towson 70: Ciarra Webb scored 15 points and LaTorri Hines-Allen had 14 in a losing effort for the host Tigers (9-14, 5-6 Colonial Athletic Association).
The Phoenix (13-8, 6-4) slowly built the lead, taking a 16-5 advantage on a 3-pointer by Lauren Brown with 14:15 left in the first half. Jenifer Rhodes finished with a game-high 19 points for Elon.
Bryant 55, Mount St. Mary's 53: Gregory Graves scored a game-high 14 points but missed two potential game-winning baskets for the Mount (10-12, 6-5 Northeast Conference).
The Bulldogs (11-11, 8-3) led 54-53 when Graves missed a baseline jumper with 5.1 seconds left, but the Mount retained possession. Graves took a shot in the paint that rattled in and out with 0.6 of a second left.
UMass-Lowell 67, UMBC 51: Freshman guard Matt Harris scored a season-high 21 points, shooting 3-for-7 on 3-pointers, and the host River Hawks ended a five-game losing streak.
Lance Crawford scored a season-high 18 points, including 3-for-6 on 3s, and UMass-Lowell (10-13, 4-6 America East) hit nine of 22 from distance (40.9percent).
Malcom Brent led the Retrievers (3-19, 1-8) with 15 points, and Cody Joyce had 14.