EVANSTON, Illinois — A valiant effort that wasn’t enough.
No. 8 Maryland (19-2, 15-1 B1G) outlasted Northwestern (13-6, 11-6 B1G) 62-50 Sunday afternoon at Welsh-Ryan Arena in what was a surprisingly low-scoring Senior Day matchup.
The Wildcats slowed down the nation’s best offense, which entered the game averaging 93 points per game. NU simply couldn’t muster the offense necessary to take down the top-10 Terps. Northwestern shot just 30% from the field and scored just 23 points in the second half.
Before the game, Northwestern honored its four seniors: Brooke Pikiell, Lauryn Satterwhite, Jordan Hamilton and Lindsey Pulliam. The class has combined for over 2700 points (almost 2000 of which come from Pulliam) and helped earn the program its first Big Ten title since 1990.
Veronica Burton led NU with 15 points and added seven rebounds and five steals. The senior Maryland native had 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. Collins paced UMD with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Diamond Miller and Ashley Owusu added 17 and 10 points, respectively.
The Wildcats got off to a cold start offensively, missing their first seven shots. Junior guard Sydney Wood was the first player to make a field goal for Northwestern, and though the team still struggled against Maryland’s aggressive defense, Pulliam tacked on another basket. The Blizzard defense looked solid and did not allow a three in the first half against the best long-ball team in the country (42%).
Similarly, the Terrapins’ defense was impressive in the first half — the top-10 team pressured the ‘Cats hard, both in transition and in the half-court set.
Late in the first quarter, Maryland went on a six-point run, but Pulliam and Wood stepped up again for the ‘Cats to keep the deficit at four going into the second quarter.
The second quarter started slowly, with Maryland making just one basket in the first four minutes and going on a scoring drought of 3:48. Both teams looked sloppy, and the Wildcats tacked on three turnovers during the frame. The Terps used a rare stretch of three consecutive baskets to take a 28-19 lead, prompting NU head coach Joe McKeown to call a timeout.
His team responded and closed the half on an 8-2 run to trail 30-27 going into the locker room. Owusu led the way for Brenda Frese’s squad with eight points, while Miller and Faith Masonius each added six. Pulliam tallied nine points before the break, including a crucial triple with 1:12 left in the half.
The teams continued to battle in the third, with Pulliam and Burton keeping Northwestern within single digits. Miller remained sharp for Maryland, putting up five points in the span of less than a minute midway through the quarter. Anna Morris posted her first points of the game, tossing up a long basket with no time left on the shot clock — the ‘Cats second three of the game.
Maryland then went on a 9-0 run to end the quarter, pushing its lead to double digits for the first time all afternoon. The ‘Cats finally broke their scoring drought 1:44 into the fourth quarter when Paige Mott scored a layup. After Burton drew a charge on Owusu, Morris hit another layup to cut the deficit to 47-41, forcing Frese to take a timeout.
Northwestern’s defense remained solid, and the unit drew two offensive fouls, but the team saw another two-minute scoring drought before Pulliam put up a jumper. It pulled to within four, but Benzan nailed her first triple of the contest to extend the Maryland lead back to seven with just over five minutes to go.
Wood hit a jumper to end Maryland’s five-point run and yet another two-minute scoreless spell for Northwestern, but the composed Terrapins didn’t flinch. They closed strong, scoring four straight points to go up 11 and salt things away.
Northwestern finishes its regular season on the road in Ann Arbor on Saturday against Michigan.