INDIANAPOLIS, In. – The Maryland Terrapins may have suffered their most regular season B1G Ten losses in one season (with four), but they remain unbeaten in tournament play. They defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 66-53, and will face top-seed Ohio State Buckeyes tomorrow night for the 2018 B1G Ten Women’s Championship and automatic bid into the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Four Terrapins (25-6 overall; 12-4 B1G Ten) scored in double figures, led by Junior F Brianna Fraser with 18 points. Junior F Eleanna Christianki had a double-double (14 points and 16 rebounds).
Senior G Janay Morton led the Cornhuskers (21-10 overall; 11-5 B1G Ten) with 15 points.
Ohio State (26-6 overall; 13-3 B1G Ten) edged out fourth-seed Minnesota (23-8 overall; 11-5 B1G Ten), 90-88 in the first semi-final game.
Maryland came out of the gate on fire, scoring the first five points of the game in the first 52 seconds of the game on Senior G Kristen Confroy’s free throw, a Christianki jumper and a lay-up by Sophomore G Kaila Charles.
It wouldn’t be until there was 7:23 left on the clock in the first quarter before Nebraska scored it’s first points of the game on Junior F Maddie Simon’s two free throws, cutting the lead down to 5-2.
Simon’s lay-up would give Nebraska it’s first lead of the game with 5:35 remaining in the quarter at 8-7. There were three lead changes in the quarter with the last one when Senior G Ieshia Small made a jumper with :40 seconds left on the clock, giving the Terrapins a 15-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter is where Maryland took control of the game as they would outscore Nebraska 17-8. The Cornhuskers had a miserable shooting performance in the second only hitting 1 out of their 10 field goal attempts (1:50 left in the quarter is when Nebraska scored their only field goal). The other six points they scored all came from the free throw stripe. Maryland would head into halftime with a 32-22 lead.
Nebraska would end the first half, shooting 6 for 22 from the floor (27.2%). Simon had nine of the Cornhuskers’ 22 first-half points, but scored them all in the first quarter.
Maryland didn’t shoot much better in the first half either, going 11 for 28 (39.3%). The Terrapins did out-rebound the Cornhuskers, 21-16 in the half. Small came off the bench to go 6 for 7 from the field and lead all scorers with 13 at intermission.
Christianki was the star of the third quarter, scoring eight of Maryland’s 15 points. But it was again the poor shooting from both teams that continued to be the dominating headline. Nebraska went 3 for 13 (23.1%), while Maryland was slightly better, hitting 4 of 11 (36.4%). Even with the poor shooting performance, the Terrapins were able to stretch their lead to 15 points, 47-32 after three quarters.
Both teams had their best offensive showings in the fourth quarter. Nebraska went 7 for 15 from the floor (46.7%) but could not erase the double-digit lead Maryland enjoyed for the vast majority of the second half. Maryland helped themselves by going 8 for 13 (61.5%) in the final period.
This is Maryland’s fourth year as a member in the B1G Ten Conference. By losing four conference games for the first time, Maryland did not either out-right win the B1G Ten regular season title and/or share in the title.
But, they are going to try for their fourth consecutive B1G Ten Tournament title Sunday night at 7:00 pm EST (ESPN2). They defeated Ohio State 77-74 in 2015; Michigan State 60-44 in 2016 and last year, they took down Purdue, 74-64.
They are hoping by defeating Ohio State and winning the title, to impress the selection committee and make Maryland a top four seed in any of the four regions. If Maryland does become a top four seed, they will have the advantage of hosting first and second round NCAA tournament goes at College Park. If they are a fifth seed or lower, they will not play the first two rounds on their home court since 2010, they last time the Terrapins didn’t make the tournament.