Maryland puts away Rutgers to cushion its lead in Big Ten
PISCATAWAY, N.J. | A dominant first quarter helped Maryland put away Rutgers and take command of the Big Ten.
Kaila Charles scored 17 points and the No. 10 Terrapins extended their lead in the conference with a 62-48 victory over 20th-ranked Rutgers on Sunday. The Terrapins (22-2, 11-2), who have won seven straight, own a 1 1⁄2-game advantage over the Scarlet Knights.
While coach Brenda Frese was happy to have a cushion atop the standings, she knows there’s still a long way to go.
“If we don’t take care of business in the next game (against) Nebraska, you narrow the gap,” Frese said. “We are in control of getting better and controlling what we can control. There’s no easy games remaining for us.”
Maryland scored the first seven points of the game and didn’t look back as Rutgers missed 10 of its first 11 shots. The Terrapins were up 18-4 after one quarter. The Scarlet Knights had more turnovers (six) and fouls (seven) than baskets (two) in the opening 10 minutes.
“We punched first and never looked back,” Frese said. “We stayed consistent throughout the entire game.”
Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer agreed with Frese’s assessment.
“We blew the first quarter and that’s the best way to say it,” the Hall of Famer said. “We didn’t have a sense of urgency, which I found hard to believe. We were not running the cuts as hard. Maryland showed up big time. They wanted to avenge the loss that they had. We didn’t step to it and match their intensity the way we had to with a team of that magnitude.”
The Scarlet Knights (17-6, 9-3) got going offensively in the second quarter thanks to a somewhat effective press. They cut into the lead, but couldn’t get closer than eight and trailed 34-21 at the half.
Maryland put the game away in the third quarter, avenging its first loss of the season on Dec. 31 to the Scarlet Knights.
“I think obviously this is a great win, special win for us,” Frese said. “I know how difficult a place it is to come into . ... It speaks volumes to the growth of our team since Dec. 31. We took that game to heart. You see where the growth of our team is.”
Arella Guirantes scored 20 points to lead Rutgers, which has lost two straight and dropped its first game at home this season.
Maryland shot 54 percent from the field (23 for 43) whereas Rutgers was a woeful 18 for 53 (34 percent), including going 2 for 16 from behind the 3-point line. The Scarlet Knights finished with 19 turnovers and 20 fouls. Maryland also won the rebounding battle 35-24.
Maryland has a chance to move up a spot or two in the AP Top 25 after losses by Oregon State and N.C. State this week.
Maryland next hosts Nebraska on Thursday.