By: Gabe Fernandez
No. 3 Maryland tamed a late-game comeback attempt by the Penn State Nittany Lions on a historic night for Brionna Jones 89-83.
The Terps began their evening in unfamiliar territory, allowing the Nittany Lions to score 50% from the field and turning the ball over seven times. Penn State sophomore guard Teniya Page made her presence on the court known by scoring 12 points in the first period, all on shots behind the arc. Good guard play was all part of the team’s game plan, according to Nittany Lions assistant coach Tamika Jeter as Page finished with 27 points.
“Teams who have been successful against Maryland are teams that have great guard work,” said Jeter. “Our guards are aggressive attacking, attacking, attacking. For us it was the tempo. We also wanted to put pressure on them by getting into the paint and trying to rebound. We almost took it at the end. We just wanted to neutralize every punch and punch back.”
The aggressive style proved successful for Penn State. They led Maryland 24-22 at the end of the first period and led for most of the first half, even leading by as much as five at one point. While the Terps picked up their play in the second, the only bright spot from the team was Brionna Jones, who had 24 points and seven rebounds at the end of the half.
Maryland head coach Brenda Frese also attributed the visiting team’s first half success to their overall aggressive play.
“I thought they came and clocked us early,” said Frese. “I thought their guard play, Page and Carter, was tremendous. They really gave us a punch early.”
The Terps returned to their usual play style at the beginning of the third period. They started off with an 11-2 run to bring their halftime lead up to 16, the highest of the game, and outscored Penn State by 11 by the time the period ended. The offense picked up thanks to Destiny Slocum’s (11 pts, 6 reb.) returning after getting into foul trouble in the first half.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough also picked up her game in the second half. She ended the game with 16 points on 5-12 shooting and was the only Terp with a reliable 3-point shot, going 2-4 from behind the arc.
Despite being down 16 to start the fourth period, Penn State never stopped fighting. After going on multiple scoring runs and forcing seven turnovers, the Nittany Lions were able to cut the deficit to six, but the run came too little too late as the Terps hung on to win.
But the overall star of the game was Brionna Jones. While the rest of her team was still figuring out how to get the lid off the rim in the first half, Jones dominated down low. She ended the game with 42 points on 15-19 shooting, tying Maryland’s single-game scoring record. Jones also became the fifth Terp to reach the 1,000 career rebound mark and achieved her seventh-straight double-double.
“It’s just all credit to my teammates, I couldn’t do it without them,” Jones said after the game. “I’ve had some great teammates over my four years here and tonight they just found me when I was open. I was just trying to put it up. It was all about trying to be my best.”
Other notable stats: Maryland outrebounded Penn State 46-30 to maintain their +16 average rebound differential. They outscored the Nittany Lions in the paint 52-32, but only shot 3-11 from three for the game. Penn State also forced 21 turnovers.
Maryland now moves to 16-1 overall and 4-0 in Big10 play. They look to continue their undefeated conference play on Saturday at Iowa.