MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With an undermanned opponent hanging around deep into the game, Maryland’s only two seniors took charge.
Brionna Jones scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 22 points and 10 assists, and the No. 4 Terrapins held off Minnesota 83-72 Sunday in their Big Ten opener.
Kaila Charles had 12 for Maryland (13-1, 1-0 Big Ten), which rebounded from its first loss of the season to UConn on Thursday.
“I was concerned coming into this came because of the emotion behind the last game and having a quick turnaround,” said coach Brenda Frese. “I thought we showed some uncharacteristic fatigue in the first quarter, but I thought in the second half we really came into stride.”
Jones scored eight points in the fourth quarter and Walker-Kimbrough seven in the final frame that was capped by a 15-5 Terrapins run.
“That just comes from the experience and the games that we played together,” Jones said.
Minnesota (9-6, 0-2) was led by 20 points from Carlie Wagner. Kenisha Bell added 19 and Joanna Hedstrom had 12. The Gophers were without flu-stricken starting center Jessie Edwards.
“I was really pleased with our fight, but we’re not into moral victories. I felt that we did have opportunities to win the game,” said Minnesota coach Marlene Stollings. “That’s the part that’s encouraging moving forward.”
Leading 68-67 with 6 minutes to play, Walker-Kimbrough made a 3-pointer and hit a jumper for a six-point lead. Jones scored inside with 2:28 to go for a 76-67 advantage.
“That’s what you’re supposed to get from your leadership,” Frese said.
A 3-pointer by Wagner and two free throws by Bryanna Fernstrom got the Gophers within 77-72, but 3-pointers by Destiny Slocum and Kristen Confroy secured the win.
Up by 11 in the first quarter, Maryland went cold from the field in the second quarter, scoring just 14 points and allowing the Gophers to get within 38-32 at intermission.
“We said in the locker room to each other after the game, ‘They’re at the top of the Big Ten and we just really played with them,'” Hedstrom said. “That gives us confidence going into other games that we should be able to beat other teams.”
Maryland: As long as the Terrapins continue to effectively move the ball around and to get it inside they should be tough to stop. Maryland had 27 assists. It entered the game averaging 20.5, fifth-best nationally.
Minnesota: The Gophers showed flashes of being able to stay with a top team, but need to cut down on turnovers. Minnesota, which had 24 turnovers in an 87-62 loss at No. 14 Ohio State Thursday, finished with 21. It had four in the game’s first 83 seconds.
EASIER IN CLOSE
Maryland entered the game averaging 49.5 points in the paint, 26 more than its opponents. The Terrapins had a 52-30 advantage against the Gophers. Maryland has scored 40 points in the paint in nine of its 14 games.
Before the game, Minnesota retired the No. 1 of Rachel Banham. The Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer with 3,093 points, Banham played for Minnesota from 2011-16 and tied an NCAA record with a 60-point game Feb. 8, 2016, at Northwestern. Banham, the No. 4 pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft, holds Gopher records with 914 points in a season, 1,081 career field goals, 354 career 3-pointers and 577 career free throws.
Maryland stays in the Midwest with a game Wednesday at Nebraska
Minnesota looks for its first conference win Wednesday at Indiana
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