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#6 Maryland survives close call with 'inspired' Wisconsin

The Maryland Terrapins got off to a slow start, as the Wisconsin Badgers got off to a quick start to take the lead. Tierney Pfirman gave a great spark off the bench to give the Terrapins the lead, before the two teams went back and forth. For the Badgers, Nicole Bauman tried to carry her team, however she ran into two big road blocks: Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

College Park, MD -- Down by nine at the end of the first quarter, the Terps begin to find their groove at home against the Badgers with offensive help from key guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and forward Tierney Pfirman.

Wisconsin showed a commitment to defense from the start as they made it difficult for Maryland to get their offense going in the beginning.

Maryland head coach, Brenda Frese, elaborated on the Badgers’ playing saying, "I thought Wisconsin came in and was really inspired. I thought they played a complete forty minute game and you know we struggled early I thought coming out, in terms of our level of intensity."

The Badgers were on a mission trying to complete an upset of their ranked opponent.

With the Badgers beginning to struggle with maintaining their shots, the Terps found help from their bench, as Tierney Pfirman contributed some major buckets to give Maryland their first lead of the game 23 to 22 at the beginning of the second quarter. Pfirman played the role of sixth woman tonight giving her team a much needed spark to get going.

At the end of the second quarter, the lead went  back and forth as both teams were making shots and struggling to stop each other on defense. Baskets are needed to win, however eventually one team would have to get defensive stops in order to pull away which Maryland did.

Maryland stepped up their level of play throughout the end of the first half, as they shifted the momentum of the game leading 36 to 32.

Walker-Kimbrough put up 16 points in the first half alone, followed by Pfirman with seven points and three rebounds. Badgers forward Michala Johnson led her team at the half with eight points and three rebounds.

The Terps reveal right off the bat in the second half that their focus is to get Brionna Jones the ball—she put up 10 points with just minutes into the second half, after only having four in the first.

Wisconsin began to fall behind as Maryland begun to break their defense with quick sharp passes furthering their lead from four to 10 points. One thing the Terps do know how to do well is dissect the defense and balloon leads.

The Terps continued to find Jones in the paint, while the Badgers struggled to stop her while trying to close their shortfall on the scoreboard.

Wisconsin’s head coach Bobbie Kelsey said, "We took care of (Jones) in the first half but you know great players are going to find a way to get back to what they know, and they (Maryland) do it well."

By the end of the third quarter, Maryland widened their lead to 12, as the Badgers trailed 51 to 63.

The depth from the Maryland bench gives a glimpse as to why the Terps have been able to find wins time and time again, even when star players have not performed their best.

The Terps continued to dominate throughout the fourth quarter, and the Badgers started to look hopeless with no solution.

Kelsey applauded the Terps’ players and gave insight as to why she feels they cannot match them saying, "They’re the number six team in the country for a reason, they’re going to go deep in the tournament, and we’re aspiring to be at that point at some point in our future sooner than later, but a lot of that is recruiting, you can’t coach what you can’t have."

For the Terps, Walker-Kimbrough finished with 27 points--5 for 6 from three-- six assist, three rebounds and two blocks, Jones ended with 20 points, eight rebounds, Pfirman finished with nine points, five rebounds and Brene Moseley dished out a team-high 10 assists.

Nicole Bauman led the Badgers with 23 points, five assist (6-8 from three), Michala Johnson followed with 18 points, Avyanna Young added 12 points, seven rebounds and Dakota Whyte had 13 points, four rebounds and four assist.