The Boilermakers were hoping to catch the Terrapins on a down swing after their loss to Ohio State, to take a few pages out of the Buckeyes book and bottle up the high scoring Maryland offense. Purdue was able to muddy things up with their defensive pressure, getting 13 steals on the evening. Their main focus was not allowing Shatori Walker-Kimbrough to repeat her 41-point performance and they did some things to limit her, but it wasn’t enough. The junior guard showed off her well rounded game. Despite the added attention, she scored 23 points on 11 shot attempts, pulled down seven rebounds, and blocked two shots. In a game that wasn’t pretty to watch offensively, SWK’s willed her team through a few tough stretches en route to a 73-59 victory.
Lately, teams have been applying more pressure to Maryland’s perimeter players. The reason, to take those passing angles away to prevent easy entry passes to Junior Brionna Jones. She’s proved that it takes more than just one player to stop her and teams know they can’t deal with her once she catches it, so they’re attacking the other part of the equation. Forcing tougher entry passes have led to steals and recently, for the ball to stay on the perimeter rather than finding Jones on the low block. Purdue did a good job of that even though Jones finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Maryland must have worked on the defensive end of the floor since their last contest, it was clear from the opening tip. In fact, it was their offense that struggled shooting just 37% in the first half. Despite the lack of crispness on the end of the floor, the Terps got out to a 13-5 lead early in the first quarter. Their spacing issue would cause trouble, Purdue already plays solid defense, shrinking the floor on your own volition certainly didn’t help matters.
The Boilermakers wouldn’t go away as Andreona Keys and Ashley Morrissette made enough plays on the offensive end, especially in transition. Maryland averages 14 turnovers per game, they had 10 in the half. That is what allowed Purdue to get out and run and keep themselves in the game, those transition opportunities led to several uncontested three pointers. Still, Maryland used a 7-0 run powered by the combination of Brionna Jones and freshman Brianna Fraser. The two bigs combined to score 13 points in the half, SWK led both teams with 10 at the half.
The third quarter was similar to the first half, Maryland’s spacing was horrible and continued to cause issues for them. Sloppy passes led to deflections and turnovers, but again their defense wold keep the Boilermakers at bay. There was a ton of fouling by both teams, leaving for an extremely choppy quarter.
SWK did a great job of leading the way though, her willingness to attack was infectious and forced Purdue into fouls. Maryland did a great job of converting those free throw opportunities. Purdue would trail 51-38 at the end of the third period, but that wouldn’t be the last of them.
Ashley Morrissette (18 points) and April Wilson (14 points) hit huge shots to not only keep their team in the game, but even cutting the lead to seven under two minutes. Senior Chloe Pavlech hit the biggest shot of the night for the Terps, after the lead was cut to seven she responded with a three of her own on the ensuing possession. Purdue’s undoing would be their propensity to commit fouls. Maryland cleaned up at the line, connecting on 18 of their 21 field goals and that would be the difference.
The Terps did get quality bench minutes, but not from the usual suspects. Senior guard Brene Moseley has shown the ability to be an extremely reliable sixth man. Routinely coming off the bench and providing a spark both with her scoring and play-making. She would go 0-of-8 from the field, but tallied seven assists. Tierney Pfirman also struggled from the field, hitting just 2-of-8 of her attempts.
Freshman to the rescue; Kiah Gillespie and Brianna Fraser didn’t shoot it well, but they made up for it in several ways. The young duo combined for nine points, six rebounds, and three blocks. It may not seem like much, but they brought consistent energy and provided their team with a great spark off the bench. Going forward, this game may be one to reference if the two youngsters can stack consistent performances. Which will go a long way in Maryland’s bid for a national title.