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Rapid Reaction: Maryland pulls away to hand Northwestern fifth-straight loss in 71-58 defeat

Some encouraging signs, but the hits just keep on coming.

@TerpsWBB / Twitter

One response just wasn’t enough.

Despite an encouraging second-quarter comeback that put Northwestern within three points of Maryland at halftime on the road, the Terrapins (7-3, 1-0 B1G) rode a strong third quarter to hand the Wildcats (3-6, 0-1 B1G) their first loss in Big Ten play in a 71-58 Terps win.

A balanced scoring attack propelled the home team, which forced 19 turnovers and got to the free throw line 23 times in contrast to just seven attempts for Northwestern. Allie Kubek led all scorers with 17 points, with Jakia Brown-Turner and Shyanne Sellers contributing 13 points apiece. Sellers also shined on the defensive end, where she picked up two blocks and five steals.

For Northwestern, Melannie Daley led the way with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Casey Harter dropped 10 points in her first start as a Wildcat in place of Daley, while Hailey Weaver scored nine.

After a few misses to open the action, Weaver and Kubek traded layups. Those buckets, as well as a Bri McDaniel layup, were the brightest offensive spot during a stretch where both teams shot a combined 3-of-13 from the field to start. Northwestern went on a four-minute scoring drought, which the Terps capitalized on with a 6-0 run. Unfazed, Caileigh Walsh broke an 0-of-4 shooting start with a layup, and Weaver followed that up with a score in transition to bring the score to 10-8 Maryland with four minutes left in the first quarter.

Daley, who came off the bench for the first time this season, checked in after the media timeout and got on the board to tie the game. The Terrapins answered with another 6-0 run, forcing Daley to turn it over twice. No. 21 briefly stopped the run with a midrange jumper, but Maryland punctuated the period with another fastbreak score off Daley’s third turnover of the quarter to take a 22-14 lead through 10 minutes.

A number of fouls on both sides slowed down the start of the second quarter, in which another midrange J from Daley marked the only field goal of the first three minutes. However, a couple of free throws and a Sellers score vaulted Maryland again, giving the Terps their largest edge of the day at 25-16.

The Wildcats responded with force. Daley cashed in another shot to get to eight points, and Walsh quickly got going inside to pick up six points in two minutes. Lau shined as a playmaker, and the defense stiffened up. Suddenly, the ‘Cats found themselves within three.

Continuing the run, a stepback three from Harter evened it up at 27. Sellers finally provided an answer with a jump shot, but Weaver responded with a thrilling sequence. Her steal-and-score led to an and-one in transition, which gave the ‘Cats a 30-29 lead. The Terps continued to get to the free throw line, though, picking up four points at the charity stripe to respond. The half then ended with a bang, as Sellers answered another Harter trey with a buzzer-beating triple. It put the Terrapins up 36-33 going into the break.

All things considered, the second quarter might’ve been Northwestern’s best 10 minutes of the season. It looked down and out when it fell behind by nine points, but the ‘Cats responded with balanced basketball on both ends of the floor. They forced five turnovers in the quarter, and snagged five offensive rebounds.

Brinae Alexander kept the momentum going for UMD with a corner three, and a free throw from Brown-Turner gave the Terrapins a seven-point lead. McDaniel created a bucket for herself, and Sellers extended Maryland’s edge to 44-33 with another layup. Paige Mott put NU on the board with a layup, but Brown-Turner intercepted a pass from Lau on the next possession to spark another McDaniel score. A pair of free throws from Faith Masonius put the Terps ahead by 13.

Down but not out, Daley continued her strong shooting performance with two more jumpers. Yet, UMD answered each one to hold a 52-39 advantage. It went on to tack on four more points before the end of the third quarter to go up by 17.

Two more Maryland scores gave it a 21-point cushion, but two-point makes from Lau and Harter cut NU’s deficit to 62-45. However, the ‘Cats wouldn’t get closer than 13 points behind, as the Terps closed out their home victory without much trouble.

Northwestern will continue its nonconference slate with a road game against DePaul on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. CT. The action will be broadcast on FloHoops.