MINNEAPOLIS (AP)Chloe Bibby scored 23 points to lead a balanced offense and help No. 10 Maryland beat Minnesota 87-73 on Sunday.
Angel Reese added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Maryland (12-4, 4-1 in the Big Ten), while Ashley Owusu chipped in 15 points, six rebounds and eight assists with no turnovers. Diamond Miller had 12 points and six assists.
Deja Winters led Minnesota (8-8, 1-3) with 20 points on 6-for-12 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Sara Scalia scored 19 points, Kadi Sissoko had 15 points and Alanna Micheaux grabbed 12 rebounds.
The Terrapins used their pressure defense and transition game to take control in the second half. They outscored Minnesota 19-7 on the fast break and scored 22 points off turnovers to just four for the Gophers.
”I thought (Owusu) did a tremendous job being a floor general,” Bibby said. ”We always feel good when the ball’s in her hands. She’s going to make a great decision either way. We were just trying to have energy and effort. We wanted our defense to create offense and I think at times we did in our transition, and that’s what really got us going.”
Maryland led by double digits early but the Gophers, playing their first home game in nearly a month, made it a game. Winters’ sixth 3-pointer pulled Minnesota to within a point at 49-48 midway through the third quarter.
But in a pivotal stretch, the Gophers committed three quick turnovers and Maryland made it count. A transition layup by Miller and a jumper by Owusu quickly helped stretch the lead back to nine, and Minnesota didn’t get closer than five points the rest of the way.
”I’m proud of the way our team battled. We responded and answered every run they made,” Minnesota assistant coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis said. ”We just had a couple turnovers, a couple offensive rebounds here and there that kind of put it over the edge for them.”
The Terrapins set the tone from the start, pushing the ball down the floor and forcing Minnesota to scramble into transition defense. But the short-handed Gophers, who were missing point guard Jasmine Powell due to a family matter, kept it close in a fast-paced first half.
Miller carried much of the early scoring burden for Maryland. She made her first two 3-pointers and went 4-for-4 from the floor for 10 points as Maryland led 24-14 after the first quarter.
The Gophers were held scoreless for a five-minute stretch that spanned the first two quarters, but they broke out of it in a big way, thanks to Winters. The 5-11 senior, a graduate transfer from North Carolina A&T, hit four straight 3-pointers in a 2 1/2-minute span. The fourth cut Maryland’s lead to 29-26 midway through the second quarter.
Owusu answered for the Terrapins with consecutive 3-pointers, but Scalia later made two straight buckets for Minnesota to cut lead to 36-34.
Bibby then took over, converting a three-point play after a ball fake and driving layup and adding a basket in transition to help Maryland to a five-point halftime lead.
”I thought our defense helped us go to our offense, being able to force and get a lot of points from turnovers against them,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. ”We were disappointed in letting Winters go off for 15 points (in the second quarter), and I just thought collectively we did a better job of tuning in on the defensive end.”
WHALEN OUT AGAIN
Minnesota head coach Lindsay Whalen missed her second straight game after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Jan. 4. Thibault-DuDonis, who led the Gophers to a 62-49 victory at Rutgers on Thursday, again served as acting head coach. The school announced that Whalen planned on returning to the team on Jan. 11.
Maryland: The Terrapins continued to take care of business against unranked teams. All four of their losses this season have come against teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game.
Minnesota: With Powell missing the game, Scalia handled point guard duties on Sunday. Minnesota’s leading scorer at 15.1 points per game didn’t miss a beat in her scoring duties, but the absence of Powell, whose 5.7 assists per game are good for third in the Big Ten, certainly was a factor in Minnesota’s 17 turnovers.
Maryland gets another chance to take down a top-10 team when it hosts No. 9 Michigan on Sunday.
Minnesota visits Wisconsin on Wednesday.
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