INDIANAPOLIS, IN. — Maryland (30-2, 15-1) captured its third-consecutive B1G Tournament Championship with its 74-64 win over Purdue (22-12, 10-6) Sunday night.
Star center Brionna Jones played another excellent game for the Terrapins finishing with a team-high 27 points, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 assists and 3 steals and being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“[Jones] missed, like, eight shots in three days. It’s just unheard of. She was unbelievable.” Maryland’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough said. “She’s the best [post-player] in the country... She makes us go. And she is just a beast down low offensively and defensively.”
Jones set a B1G record this year by shooting 66% from the field and continued her efficient play tonight by shooting 11-of-13 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line.
Jones was the stabilizing force all game for Maryland. While the Terrapins were stifled early by Purdue’s defensive play, it was Jones who gave them the chance to break open the game in the second half.
Purdue made a cinderella run in the B1G Tournament but came up just short as fatigue set in late after playing its fourth game in four days.
“There’s not enough credit given to the parity in this conference,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “And when you see a No. 5 seed and No. 6 seed be able to get to the semis and finals and to win games and push us, it speaks volumes of the parity in our conference.”
The Boilermakers came into tonight’s game fielding, arguably, the best defense in the Big Ten.
Purdue’s efforts on defense paid off in the first half.
The Boilermakers forced Maryland into playing half-court basketball and never let the Terrapins get comfortable offensively. Maryland is used to getting out on the fast-break but was held to just two fast-break points in the first half.
Purdue — winners of seven in a row entering tonight’s championship — established a pace in which it could succeed and for the majority of the game it worked.
Maryland is one of the best teams in the country, though, and managed to overcome Purdue’s defensive efforts to gain a 21-point lead midway through the fourth quarter before the Boilermakers made one last run.
While Maryland settled in mentally, it was evident that Purdue was running on fumes in the second half.
Purdue managed to outscore Maryland in the fourth quarter, 18-17, but couldn’t overcome a horrid third quarter in which they scored 11 points.
“The third quarter was very difficult for us, but when you look at the stat sheet they made shots and we didn’t,” Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp said. “And obviously they scored in the paint, and they do that to everyone in the country.”
Maryland outscored Purdue 44-26 in the paint.
Throughout the first half, Purdue was able to convert its offensive possessions. That changed in the second half as Maryland honed in defensively.
As Purdue’s shooting faltered — the Boilermakers shot just 41% from the field — Maryland relied on B1G Freshman of the Year Destiny Slocum to push the pace offensively.
Slocum re-established Maryland’s fast-break offense in the second half and finished the night with 14 points and 7 assists.
Slocum’s excellent play matched that of Purdue’s Ashley Morrissette.
The All-Big Ten First team point guard carried the Boilermaker’s early and often finishing the game with 18 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.
Morrissette and Purdue likely solidified their spot in the NCAA tournament with its showing this past weekend.
While Maryland will look to cap another stellar season with a Final Four berth.