It was an all-around effort from the Terrapins, who laid the boom on NU with stifling defense and downhill layups.
Marred by a two-point effort in the second period, Northwestern (8-16, 1-12 B1G) wasn’t able to stick with No. 8 Maryland (20-5, 11-3 B1G). The ‘Cats continue to scrape the bottom of the Big Ten standings.
Diamond Miller had the best stat sheet among the Terps, thanks to an 18-point performance that saw her go 5-of-9 from the field. Miller also added nine boards and seven assists on the night. Bri McDaniel had a great night for the Terps, totaling 14 points on an effective 5-of-9 night from the field. She hit 67% of her three-pointers. Lavender Briggs also hit double digits for the turtles, adding 10 on 4-of-6 shooting.
Paige Mott was the only Northwestern player to break free of single digits, notching 15 on 50% shooting. Courtney Shaw was the team’s most efficient player on offense, scoring eight on three shots and two made free throws. There weren’t any other players on NU’s roster who shot more than 33% from the field (on three or more attempts).
After winning the tip, Northwestern turned it over en route to a Maryland layup that opened scoring.
Mott dribbled down the court, trying to take it to the rim herself and passing on an easy pass to Caileigh Walsh. She missed on that attempt and her next one. A third straight Mott miss segued into an open three-pointer for Maryland’s Abby Meyers, who knocked it down.
Northwestern and Maryland traded staunch defensive possessions, AS Sydney Wood helped mitigate the Wildcats’ turnover frenzy by absorbing a charge on the defensive end of the court.
Scoring didn’t come easy for NU, having racked up just four points halfway into the first period. The team was able to get the ball rolling with a stressful offensive sequence that saw Caroline Lau make a nice move to swerve a defender before missing the layup. An offensive rebound and a few passes later, Wood converted the possession into points via a backboard-assisted floater. Heading into the game’s first media timeout, the Terrapins led the ‘Cats, 9-6.
Back-to-back forced turnovers had coach Joe McKeown’s squad working with momentum, as Sydney Wood turned a Walsh steal into a converted and-one play, helping the team take its first lead of the game.
Maryland’s McDaniel broke a short scoring drought by splashing in a corner three with roughly two minutes to go in the first. A Faith Masonius make cut the Wildcats lead to one.
Jillian Brown checked into the game with just about a minute left in the period and knocked down a corner three to stop a small opposing run. To top off the quarter, Brown nailed a contested, buzzer-beater jumper, taking the ‘Cats into the second with a 20-16 lead.
The next quarter started with a combined five missed shots between the two teams. The only point scored in the first 1:41 of the period was a single free throw from Maryland’s Miller.
Northwestern excelled at stealing the ball all night, but it had a hard time consistently nabbing points off those plays. That was especially the case in the second quarter, as NU wasn’t able to convert any of its swipes into points. Aside from not being able to score off turnovers, poor shot selection inhibited the ‘Cats’ offense.
Mott had an especially tough first half, going 3-of-8, including a handful of missed layups. The forward was far from alone, as Wood and Walsh also hit around 30% from the field in the first two periods.
It felt like Maryland had the opposite issue. The Terrapins found themselves under NU’s rim often in the second, contributing to them taking a 32-20 lead with just over a minute left in the half.
Things started to get out of hand for McKeown and Co. when Walsh yelled at the rest of the offense to move. Northwestern was charged with a shot clock violation that same possession.
Northwestern tallied its first points of the quarter with 27.4 seconds to go in the quarter thanks to two lucky-roll free throws from Shaw. Yes, the team went almost the entire period without hitting a free throw, layup or jumper. The ‘Cats entered halftime with two points to show for a quarter of effort, down 34-22.
To open the third quarter, Meyers drilled an effortless three from the corner. A Mott foul, which was preceded by her turning the ball over, led to a set of swished free throws from Miller.
After 12 minutes and 14 seconds without a single made basket for the ‘Cats, Wood took a few dribbles on the way to the rim before finishing with an uncontested layup. McKeown immediately called a Wildcat timeout, likely in hopes to infuse some optimism back into his roster.
The regroup didn’t seem to help NU much, as the offense preceded to go scoreless for almost two more minutes before a Lau bucket cut the Terrapin lead to 17.
Maryland coach Brenda Frese kept her foot on the pedal despite building a near 20-point lead. It felt as if every possession down the court featured one of the turtles lowering a shoulder into a ‘Cat for a truly deflating attempt.
Down 15 with 3:44 left in the third, the purple turned on the press — heavier than what McKeown tried earlier in the game.
To cap off the quarter, Mott finally got the roll and a foul call on a paint shot, hitting her free throw to make it a three-point play. Mott, who had been frustrated with a lack of calls all night, and McKeown were fired up when the referee’s whistle finally went her way. Both seemed to yell something at the officials when they were congregating near the sideline.
The score heading into the fourth was 55-40, in favor of the Terps. The ‘Cats fought valiantly, but ultimately were outscored by double-digits in the fourth to close the game.
The Wildcats will hit the road on Sunday for West Lafayette, Indiana as they take on Purdue at 1 pm C.T.