The coronation of the Maryland women’s basketball team as Big Ten regular season co-champions was all but complete early in the second quarter Sunday afternoon. By then, the second-ranked Terrapins had separated comfortably from visiting Minnesota on the way to a 93-60 victory.
The postgame revelry didn’t end, however, with Maryland celebrating its share of a third straight conference championship. Most of the announced crowd of 10,107 remained to help honor Terps seniors Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones in a ceremony following their final regular season game.
Each had her name and jersey number on banners unfurled from the rafters at Xfinity Center, joining other program standouts such as career scoring and rebounding leader Alyssa Thomas as well as 2006 national championship team members Marissa Coleman, Crystal Langhorne and Kristi Toliver.
“I’m really extremely proud of this team to be able to send our seniors out on an incredible day,” coach Brenda Frese said while seated between Walker-Kimbrough and Jones in the postgame news conference. “Proud of the fact of the consistency factor when you talk about back-to-back-to-back regular season titles. These guys, they work so hard, but they make it look so easy. The thing is, it’s not easy.”
Walker-Kimbrough had a game-high 27 points and Jones added 24 in Maryland’s final tuneup before the Big Ten tournament, which begins Wednesday in Indianapolis. As the No. 2 seed, the Terps (27-2, 15-1) receive a double-bye and will not play until Friday night in seeking a third Big Ten tournament championship in as many seasons since joining the conference in 2014.
By beating Rutgers later on Sunday, No. 12 Ohio State grabbed the top seed and a share of the Big Ten regular season title. The Buckeyes and Terps finished with identical Big Ten records, but Ohio State owns the tiebreaker, courtesy of a 98-87 victory over Maryland on Monday night in Columbus, Ohio.
COLLEGE PARK — Maryland completed a series sweep of the Golden Gophers (14-15, 5-11) on Sunday to run its all-time record against them to 6-0. Four players scored in double figures for the Terrapins, who effectively settled the outcome thanks to a 15-0 run commencing with Jones' layup with 1:22 to go in the first quarter.
Walker-Kimbrough followed with a 3-pointer, and freshman point guard Destiny Slocum sank a deep 3-pointer in the final seconds of the quarter for a 26-12 lead. Maryland shot 71.4 percent (10-for-14) in the first quarter, going 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.
The second quarter began with Maryland making five of six free throws, and when junior guard Kristen Confroy sank a layup, the Terrapins were ahead 33-12 with 8:19 left in the half. Minnesota called a timeout, but Maryland stretched the margin to 46-19 on the heels of a 16-5 surge that included four straight foul shots from freshman guard Kaila Charles (11 points, 10 rebounds).
"Definitely all good emotions," said Jones, who leads Division I in field goal percentage (69 percent) after doing the same last season. "Just trying to lock in for the game and being happy that everything happened and just taking a minute to savor the moment at the end, keeping in mind this doesn't happen every day."
The Terps shot 55.2 percent (33-for-60), including Walker-Kimbrough going 10-for-17 and Jones 7-for-9. Walker-Kimbrough made five of seven 3-pointers and added six assists, and Jones contributed a game-high 14 rebounds to move into a tie for third all-time in program history in that category with Coleman.
Jones also had 24 points for her Big Ten-leading 20th double-double. Walker-Kimbrough’s game-high 27 points continued her climb up Maryland’s all-time scoring list, where she ranks fifth all-time as one of five players in school history with 2,000 points.
Neither player arrived in College Park as a McDonald’s All-American, which Frese said has made their accomplishments that much more special. Walker-Kimbrough even admitted during her postgame speech that she doubted herself until Frese convinced her otherwise.
Shortly after hoisting the Big Ten championship trophy with their teammates, Walker-Kimbrough and Jones stood on the court as Frese spoke about their careers, which have included two Final Four appearances over the past three seasons. Both players have played in every possible game, with Sunday marking 136 straight appearances.
“I was definitely more excited for the game,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “Being that the Big Ten regular season title was one of our goals, it was really cool to see everything play out. We’ve worked hard to achieve our goals and we’re 1-for-1 right now. This ride is far from over, but just to see one of goals we achieved is pretty cool.”