With another double double, Brionna Jones leads No. 3 Terps women past Michigan
By Gene Wang
The Washington Post|
Jan 19, 2017 | 8:02 PM
In most games this season, the Maryland women's basketball team at crucial moments has counted on its two standout seniors and at least one member of coach Brenda Frese's highly regarded freshman class.
The third-ranked Terps used that blueprint in addition to contributions from an unlikely reserve, Kiah Gillespie, to pull away from Michigan down the stretch for an 83-70 victory on Thursday night at Xfinity Center. Maryland won its sixth in a row to remain in first place in the Big Ten as the only school without a conference loss.
Gillespie's 3-pointer as the third-quarter buzzer sounded delivered Maryland (18-1, 6-0) the lead for good as part of a decisive 8-0 run bridging the final two quarters. The sophomore forward opened the fourth quarter with a layup and assisted on center Brionna Jones' layup for a 68-61 lead with 8:32 left in regulation.
Michigan (15-5, 4-2) never got closer than five points the rest of the way in a matchup of two of the top three teams in the Big Ten.
"From Kiah's end, just how she's been practicing, it's great to see it all kind of come together," Frese said, "because it makes us a really strong, deep team when we have that kind of energy coming off the bench tonight."
Gillespie finished with nine points on 4-for-6 shooting, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in 18 minutes in front of an announced 4,666. She had played only three minutes combined over the previous two games and entered averaging 10.2 minutes.
Jones (Aberdeen) led the Terps with a team-high 25 points and 10 rebounds. The senior made 12 of 16 shots with three assists and three blocks, and senior guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 17 points, four assists, three blocks and three steals.
Gillespie "was a spark off the bench tonight," said Jones, who logged her ninth consecutive double double, the longest such streak of her college career. "Just seeing how hard she's been working in practice and all the effort and work she's doing behind the scenes and seeing that transfer onto the court, it's great being able to see that."
Jones sat for most of the third quarter after picking up her third personal foul with 8:18 to play. The lead changed five times shortly thereafter with neither side ahead by more than three until the Terps scored eight consecutive points after Jones re-entered.
Her layup with 2:59 to go in the third quarter provided Maryland a 58-53 advantage. The Wolverines countered with an 8-2 surge featuring two 3-pointers by Kysre Gondrezick for a 61-60 lead with 47 seconds to play before Maryland's push that included unforgiving defense on Katelynn Flaherty, who came in tied for sixth in scoring in the Big Ten.
The junior guard had a game-high 30 points but managed just one field goal over the final 15:25 with Maryland rotating several players at her, most notably freshman guard Kaila Charles. Flaherty also committed eight of the Wolverines' 18 turnovers. Five of those came in the second half.
Maryland led at halftime, 39-35, after the Wolverines climbed back from a double-digit deficit. They scored the final nine points of the first half, including Flaherty's second 3-pointer with 34 seconds to go. Maryland had the final shot of the half, but freshman point guard Destiny Slocum's 3-point attempt missed.
The largest lead in the first half belonged to Maryland, which used a 13-2 burst for a 39-26 cushion with 2:59 left in the second quarter. Jones had six of those points, and Slocum made a 3-pointer.
A 13-3 run in the first quarter gave Michigan a 15-7 lead with 4:12 to play until the Terps rallied with three straight 3-pointers, the first two by Slocum. Junior guard Kristen Confroy made her first 3-pointer, and Walker-Kimbrough's driving layup in the closing seconds pulled Maryland within 19-18 as the quarter expired.
"It's fun just to go out and put my head down and work," Gillespie said. "Just do the things that we need, rebound, defend, run, whatever we need to win at the time. I like to see my hard work translate from practice into the game."