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Rapid Reaction: No. 20 Maryland outlasts No. 22 Northwestern 70-61

The Wildcats battled for 40 minutes, but the home Terps and their front court were just too much down the stretch.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 07 Women’s Northwestern at Maryland

No. 22 Northwestern women’s basketball (17-3, 7-2 B1G) fell 70-61 to the No. 20 Maryland Terrapins (16-4, 7-2) in a hard-fought road battle Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats hung close throughout, but the Terrapins ultimately prevailed on their home court.

Lindsey Pulliam led all scorers with 20 points and five rebounds. Veronica Burton had another stellar game for the ‘Cats with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. For Maryland, four players reached double figures, led by forward Stephanie Jones, who finished with a double-double: 14 points, 11 rebounds (eight of them offensive).

Overall, UMD dominated the ‘Cats on the glass, especially in the second half, allowing them to put things away. Maryland out-rebounded NU 25-12 in the final 20 minutes, and finished with 22 total second-chance points to the ‘Cats’ three.

Unlike in the teams’ first matchup of the season, where they were blown out pretty much from the get-go, the Terps came out hot in the first quarter and took the early lead. Northwestern fought back and the teams traded buckets early on, but Maryland managed to hold the slight advantage, as after a banked-in deep Burton three cut the margin to one, the Terps went on a quick 5-0 run to extend their lead to six.

For the remainder of the quarter, the teams exchanged blows in fast-paced, turnover-laden action, but the six-point Maryland lead held at the end of the first. However, with under a minute to play in the quarter, backup forward Shakira Austin went down with an injury and would not return — a major loss for the Terps.

Northwestern started the second quarter with a bang and completely erased the Maryland lead in the first three minutes. An Abbie Wolf layup and Abi Scheid three cut the lead to one, and a Sydney Wood steal and layup gave NU the 18-17 lead. For the remainder of the quarter, the two teams traded leads.

Maryland extended its advantage to four points, but Northwestern took over again after Pulliam was fouled on a three-pointer and connected on all three shots from the charity stripe. NU held the 30-27 lead at the half, and Pulliam led the way for the ‘Cats with 10 points.

Neither team let up in the second half as the two battled all the way through one of the most intense games the ‘Cats have played all season. Northwestern started to struggle severely on the boards in the third, allowing too many second-chance scoring opportunities and letting Maryland tie the game up.

Burton helped the Wildcats fight back with five points in the quarter, but a 12-1 run late in the third spearheaded by Ashley Owusu, who had 11 of her 13 points and four of her five assists in the second half, gave the Terps the eight point advantage heading into the fourth. The ‘Cats did not score a field goal for the last five minutes of the quarter.

Maryland started the fourth quarter with continued lockdown defense, and as time was ticking, it seemed the game could soon be out of reach for the Wildcats. However, Pulliam ended the silence with a huge four-point play off a deep three from the corner, cutting the eight-point lead in half and, crucially, giving Jones her fourth foul.

A layup from Wolf quickly made it a two point game with seven minutes to play. However, Faith Masonius came alive late in the fourth and helped Maryland regain the momentum with a personal 6-0 run aided by some questionable whistles and non-calls.

A stellar fourth-quarter performance from Maryland’s starters maintained the lead, and despite some big Jordan Hamilton shots late, Northwestern was unable to ever fully claw their way back into it.

Taylor Mikesell and Blair Watson added 14 and 13 points respectively for the Terps, who earned their way into a tie for second place in the conference with the Wildcats thanks to the season series split.

Hamilton and Wood finished the day with nine and six points for Northwestern, while Scheid and Wolf combined for 12 points and 13 rebounds.

After snapping their five-game winning streak, the ‘Cats will host Michigan (12-6, 3-4 B1G) on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Welsh-Ryan.