The Minnesota Gophers were coming off a big win, beating the Ohio State Buckeyes by two in overtime. As talented and as dangerous as the Golden Gophers are at home, they’re not quite the same team on the road. Still, many were looking forward to seeing the second leading scorer in the nation and the first in the Big Ten conference would do against the Maryland Terrapins. Especially considering that Rachel Banham was averaging 30.8 points a contest in Conference play and 38.1 per contest in the month of February. For Maryland, they were looking to send their Seniors off in style on their day. Prior to the game was a ceremony for the Senior equipment managers and players. In front of a packed crowd, the Terps made it clear they wanted no parts of a close game or an upset with a 110-77 win over the Golden Gophers.
Maryland got it’s work done early on, making sure that the always dangerous Banham didn’t go off. They crowded her space as well as her teammates and used their defense to go on a run. For the occasion, the Terps started their four Seniors alongside Junior guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. The quartet of Tierney Pfirman (29 points), Malina Howard (8 points), Brene Moseley (7 points, 8 assists), and Chloe Pavlech (12 points, 8 assists) set the tone early.
Moseley got the crowd going early with a gorgeous no-look pass to freshman Brianna Fraser. The “Pfirmanator” was phenomenal in the first half, nearly getting a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Brionna Jones came off the bench and was set to seek and destroy, the Junior big had 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting in the first half. Minnesota was hanging with Maryland for a bit there, rallying to cut an eight point deficit to two at one point.
Banham picked up her second foul late in the first quarter, upon her exit things got progressively worse for Minnesota and it happened rather quickly. Her teammate Carlie Wagner tried to keep her team in it, but Maryland ratcheted up their defensive pressure and started doing what they do best. Rebounding and running. With Minnesota taking so many long shots, it created long rebounds, but they weren’t able to grab those rebounds. Maryland’s 29-14 edge on the glass at the break was mostly long rebounds.
The Terps led 52-34 at the half, Banham was inserted despite her foul trouble with four minutes left in the second quarter. The Terps were moving the ball well and got 12 good looks from beyond the arc, but they were just 1-of-12 with Pavlech being the lone player to make a shot from that range.
Things got even worse for the visitors in the second half as Maryland made a big third quarter push, pushing the lead to 40 points. Tierny Pfirman went nuts, scoring 12 points in the quarter. The Terps never stopped playing defense, maintaining their stellar ball pressure through the second half. All of which made that stretch in the first half in which Banham was on the bench more important.
The Golden Gophers essentially lost the game during that stretch. She would finish the game with just two fouls, so that decision may haunt them, but not too long as the Big 10 Tournament starts this week. When Banham went to the bench, Maryland went on a run and by the time the Coach put her back on the floor, the Terps were up by 20. Minnesota trailed by 18 at the half and never were in a position to recover.
Banham would get 26 points, but it wasn’t close to a fair fight as Maryland had four players score in double figures. The Seniors combined to score 56 points in the game. The Terps got 43 points from Jones and SWK.