Northwestern ran into a buzzsaw. Maryland capped off it's 18th Big Ten win of the season, not a bad haul for 18 games. There's no doubt who the crème of the crop is in the Big Ten, and the Terrapins sent a message to the upstart Wildcats.
Northwestern was in it in the first half. The Wildcats tied the game at 26 before Maryland hit back to back triples to go into the break up 6, but it felt like Northwestern was playing Maryland even. Then the doors got blown off. Maryland won the second half 37-22, and they did it from deep and from the inside. As a team, the Terrapins went 8-19 from three, not bad for a team that only hits 4 three pointers a contest, and on the inside, Brionna Jones took Alex Cohen to work, scoring 14 points on perfect 6-6 shooting and nabbed 11 boards.
Brenda Frese pointed to something that we've been mentioning all year: depth. Frese commented that "Northwestern isn't able to go as deep as we are," and that "being able to expand with different players with great energy" was a deciding factor in the second half push.
McKeown, for his part, downplayed depth, and commented that one half of basketball shouldn't overshadow the great month of February his team put together. "We've got look at the positives," McKeown said.
It was clear that this was just a different kind of game than Thursday's contest against Rutgers. McKeown said, "Thursday night we felt like we could beat anybody." He said that while Rutgers was a battle in the paint, today was more about transition play. Strange that that kind of game didn't favor Northwestern, who are so adept in pushing the tempo.
The story of the game was pretty simple: Maryland hit shots, Northwestern didn't. Northwestern shot under 30% from the floor. Coffey got 14 points, but went 5-16. Lyon scored 10 and grabbed 8, but went 4-13. Ashley Deary went 2-12. Lauren Douglas went 3-10. Sometimes the lid is just put on the basket. That's what happened today.
Northwestern is going to get a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament, and should have time to lick their wounds before heading back on the floor. The team is going to have to regroup and rediscover the form that led them to 8 straight victories.