By Gillian Vesely
Before the annual Play 4 Kay Pink Game between the No. 5Maryland Terrapins and the Penn State Lady Lions even tipped-off on Monday night, the Maryland women’s basketball team knew something already belonged to them: the Big Ten Regular Season Championship Trophy. The team clinched the Big Ten title outright after an Ohio State victory over Iowa on Saturday night. But the Terps still had a game to play.
Within the first 11 seconds of the game, head coach Brenda Frese was on her feet, applauding her team for forcing a Penn State turnover. This was just one of the 15 first half, 22 total turnovers made by the Lady Lions. Maryland tallied 14 steals on the game, seven of which came from guard Lexie Brown, helping to hold Penn State to a mere 14 points in the opening frame.
On the offensive end, the Terps found themselves struggling to find open looks, as they were limited to just six fast break points in the first half. On multiple occasions they found themselves deep in the shot clock, but they remained composed. “We have a lot of faith in Lexie handling the ball, so when there’s pressure, we trust her to get the ball up the floor so that we can run our offense,” center Brionna Jones said after the game. Jones, who finished with a game-high 17 points, hit a layup at the buzzer before halftime to give the Terps a 21 point lead into the locker room.
In the second half, Maryland hit their stride offensively. A Kristen Confroy free throw with 3:07 left in the game stretched the Terps’ lead to 35, the largest of the game. Penn State’s Candice Agee led the Lady Lions with 10 points and nine rebounds, but her performance was not enough to hang in with the Terps. After their 65-34 victory, Maryland was presented with the Big Ten Regular Season Championship Trophy. But they insisted that they will continue to concentrate on their upcoming games. “The Big Ten is a dogfight every night,” said guard Laurin Mincy. “We’re just going to make sure we stay on task and keep doing the things we’ve been doing for the past couple of days.” Frese agreed, as she sat next to the trophy to answer questions from the media after the game. The title is a “first step for us,” she said. “Obviously something we’re proud of, but the first step of many great things left for this team to be able to do.” Maryland will host Indiana in Xfinity Center on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7:00 p.m.