The Maryland women’s basketball team fought through its share of adversity and foul trouble Monday night. In the end, Kaila Charles determined it was the defense that was the difference for the Terps.
Charles scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help No. 8 Maryland rally for a 58-55 victory over Purdue. The Terps clinched a share of the Big Ten title by using a 13-0 run to erase a nine-point deficit.
“We locked in on defense,” Charles said. “Stephanie [Jones] didn't get to play much in the first half because of foul trouble. But we know she was going to be consistent. We were able to come away when we were down nine and chip away.”
Jones (Aberdeen), who played less than three minutes in the first half because of two fouls, finished with 16 points, including three big free throws late, and Taylor Mikesell had 10 points for the Terps (25-3, 14-3 Big Ten), who clinched at least a share of the regular-season Big Ten title. Shakira Austin delivered a team-high 14 rebounds for Maryland.
“It speaks volumes of our consistency to be able to come on the road and be able to win,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “We've been able to grow as a team and keep getting better.”
Freshman Kayana Traylor scored a season-high 18 points to lead Purdue (17-13, 8-9). Ae'Rianna Harris contributed 14 points and 14 rebounds and Dominique Oden 12 points.
Oden was fouled on a 3-point shot and hit all three free throws to narrow the deficit to 55-52 with 19.7 seconds to go.
Jones was fouled and hit one of two free throws to push the lead to 56-52. Traylor sank a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one point with seven seconds to go. Jones was fouled and hit both free throws with six seconds left. Purdue's Cassidy Hardin missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“Purdue played a tremendous game and threw a lot of different things at us,” Frese said. “I'm proud of our fight. The energy and aggressiveness came from Purdue.”
However, Frese said her team was able to hang around enough to get the job done in the final quarter.
The Boilermakers used a 7-0 run to take its largest lead at 39-29 in the third quarter. Trailing 43-34 with 2:42 left in the third quarter, the Terps scored 13 straight points to take a 47-43 edge.
“We share the basketball really well,” Frese said.
Purdue ended the eight-minute-plus scoring drought with 4:30 left in the fourth quarter to cut Maryland's lead to 47-45 on a layup by Oden.
Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said her team had chances.
“We had shots but we were a little disorganized,” Versyp said. “We had some looks. We just have to be able to knock down those shots.”
It wasn't because a lack of effort.
“We fought so hard, it's not a moral victory by any means,” Versyp said. “This young group keeps battling and growing. [Traylor] grew up a a ton [Monday night]. If she continues to play like that, it's going to be big for us.”
Maryland: Terrapins held a 43-33 rebounding edge.
Purdue: Karissa McLaughlin, who averages 15.9 points, was limited to three points on 1-of-10 shooting.
Maryland: The Terps entered the game with a one-game lead over second-place Iowa, who played at Nebraska late Monday night. Maryland is seeking to be the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Terps have a 10-2 series lead over Purdue.
Purdue: Had the Boilermakers held on to its third quarter lead of 10 points, it would have gone a long way as the team looks to secure a better Big Ten tournament seeding position and lock down an NCAA berth.
Maryland: The Terps will host Illinois on Saturday in their final regular season game.
Purdue: The Boilermakers will close the regular season Sunday at rival Indiana.