On senior night, No. 7 Maryland women’s basketball dismantled Purdue, 88-45, extending its winning streak to 13 consecutive games and maintaining its first-place status in the Big Ten
Maryland has defeated its opposition soundly and is currently ranked fourth in the nation for margin of victory, averaging by 25 points-per-game.
The Terps’ four seniors started, including Sara Vujacic in her first-career start. While on the court, Vujacic shot 4-of-5 and 2-for-3 from the arc, scoring 10 points in her final home game.
“This was a special night for me,” Vujacic said, as it was the first time her parents traveled to the United States to see her play for the Terps.
Down early in the first quarter, freshman Diamond Miller took the ball coast-to-coast and finished with a Euro-step for an easy layup, pulling Maryland to within one point. Despite Purdue’s 12-11 lead with 3:49 remaining, Maryland, just like clockwork, put on an offensive run.
“No matter who comes in [for Maryland], they are a weapon on offense and defense,” Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp said.
Senior Stephanie Jones dominated the low post with 12 first-half points that sparked the offense, and Maryland did not trail for the remainder of the game.
“[Jones] set the tone for us,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “She is playing with a strong purpose.”
Maryland had five players score double digits, with Jones leading the team with 18 points and nine rebounds.
“I’ve been watching [Jones] for a long time,” Versyp said. “She is a very tough player to guard.”
Both teams were careless with the ball as they combined for 27 first-half turnovers, but Maryland was able to convert Purdue’s 17 turnovers into 18 points.
Maryland corrected its sloppy ball-handling in the second half, only turning the ball over three times.
“We didn’t start out as sharp as we wanted to,” Frese said. “I thought we made some nice adjustments in the second half and got back to how we wanted to play.”
Maryland’s defense limited Purdue to 31 percent shooting and forced 24 total turnovers.
The Terps controlled the paint, 60-28, highlighted by a fast-break alley-oop from Blair Watson to Shakira Austin, which gave Maryland a 43-24 lead with 6:05 remaining in the third quarter.
“When they turn you over, that is where they are scoring a lot,” Versyp said. “They are one of the best defensive teams I’ve seen in a long time.”
Maryland doubled Purdue in the third quarter to go up 63-34. Seniors Charles, Watson and Jones took a seat with 3:16 remaining in the game, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.
Senior Kaila Charles was one of two Maryland players to record a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“Over the course of the four years, with these seniors here, we have definitely left our mark here,” Jones said.
Maryland outscored Purdue 25-9 in the fourth quarter to seal the 43-point win.
The future of Maryland women’s basketball is in good hands as sophomore Shakira Austin had the team’s other double-double, scoring 17 points and 13 rebounds, and freshman Diamond Miller added 12 points.
Maryland will wrap up conference play Sunday against Minnesota in Minneapolis.