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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern demolished by No. 7 Maryland 85-52 in Big Ten Semis

A first trip to the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game was not meant to be.

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — One day after its best performance of the season, Northwestern (15-8, 11-7 B1G) fell flat against top-seeded Maryland (23-2, 17-1) 85-52 in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The Terps used a 22-2 second-quarter run to kill the game before halftime. Lindsey Pulliam played her worst game of the season, scoring a single point while shooting 0-of-12 and failing to break the career 2,000-point threshold.

Pulliam was not alone in her struggles. Veronica Burton, who crossed 1,000 career points, led NU with 14 points but could not drag Northwestern back into the game. Jordan Hamilton had five turnovers to accompany her 10 points, while Courtney Shaw shot 2-for-9, primarily missing layups and put-backs in the paint. The ‘Cats turned it over 15 times.

Maryland’s superb offensive output exacerbated NU’s woes. The Terps shot 59 percent from the field with six players finishing in double figures.

UMD started on the front foot, scoring on each of its first three possessions to take a quick 7-0 lead while forcing Northwestern to break its mid-court press. While the ‘Cats didn’t necessarily shoot poorly, they were sloppy on the offensive end of the court and turned the ball over five times in the first quarter. Both Lindsey Pulliam and Veronica Burton, whose heroics propelled the ‘Cats past Michigan yesterday, did not score until the latter stages of the first frame. The former did not hit a field goal in the first 10 minutes of the ballgame.

Maryland shot 60 percent in the first quarter, with the likes of Mimi Collins and Owusu using their size to exploit the Wildcats’ weakness in the post. The Terps led 22-15 after one.

They began to pull away in the second quarter thanks to some more solid shooting and clean play. The Terps scored on nine straight possessions to put together an 18-0 run and stretch their lead to 23. Northwestern simply could not get stops. UMD shot just under 70 (!) percent in the first half.

On the other end of the court, Northwestern continued to turn the ball over and struggled to both finish at the rim and hit jumpers. A Burton free throw finally ended the ‘Cats four-minute scoring drought, but a lethargic and dispirited Northwestern squad seemed all but out of the game not even halfway into it. They went to the locker room down 49-24 with 11 turnovers, their full-game season average. Pulliam scored a solitary point on a single free throw, going 0-of-6 from the field.

Maryland continued to shoot well in the third quarter to stretch its lead to 32 with 10 minutes left. The ‘Cats could not consistently hit their shots or stop the Terrapins on the interior, while both Pulliam and Burton shot a combined 1-of-10 from the field.

With the game all but decided, head coach Joe McKeown gave minutes to his younger role players, namely Kaylah Rainey, Anna Morris and Jasmine McWilliams. Pulliam exited the game midway through the quarter without a field goal to her name.

Northwestern awaits its NCAA Tournament fate, which will be revealed on Selection Monday at 6 pm CT on ESPN. Multiple bracketology projections have NU as a six or seven seed.