Brionna Jones dominates as Terps fight past Michigan State

Photo courtesy of Lauren Anikis / Stories Beneath the Shell

Coming into its matchup with Michigan State on Sunday, Maryland had two ways they could defeat the Spartans — stop Tori Jankoska or score enough to cancel out her production.

Jankoska, who averages 22.1 points per game in conference play, got hers, scoring 23 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the field and 5-of-13 shooting from 3-point range. However the Terps did enough on offense to win.

Maryland shot 54 percent from the field and scored 51 first-half points, improving to 25-1 overall and 13-0 in the Big Ten with an 89-72 victory over Michigan State.

The most productive offensive weapon for the Terps was yet again Brionna Jones, who picked up her 18th double-double of the season. She scored a game-high 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds.

Jones was joined on the court by her sister, Stephanie, for the longest stretch this season. Stephanie Jones played 17 minutes in the victory, including most of the fourth quarter, and scored five points and grabbed three rebounds. The Spartans tried to overpower Maryland’s guard by going with a bigger lineup, but Frese came back with more minutes for Jones, a tactic that worked out for Maryland.

The two sisters — along with forward Brianna Fraser — helped Maryland secure a 46-26 advantage in points in the paint and a 39-28 advantage on the glass. Michigan State’s only inside presence on Sunday was senior forward Taya Reimer, who scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds. Unfortunately for the Spartans, she fouled out midway through the fourth quarter and left the team without an inside scoring threat.

The Terps knew they had to score early and often to get past the Spartans, and that’s exactly what they did. With the game tied at 11 early, Maryland went on a 14-2 run to open up a big lead, and led 25-19 after one quarter. The Terps made 8 of 11 shots in the first quarter and converted on all eight of their free throws.

In the second quarter, Brenda Frese’s team continued its offensive onslaught. Brionna Jones started working down low and finished the half with 15 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough was also in double-figures at halftime for the Terps, who held a 51-40 lead after 20 minutes.

Walker-Kimbrough continued to shoot well throughout the game, and finished with 24 points. She buried three shots from long distance and added four rebounds and three assists.

The Spartans allowed the Terps to shoot 61 percent from the field in the first half, but they held their own on the offensive end. Jankoska scored 13 points, while picking up her 2,000th career point, and Michigan State shot 52 percent as a team from the field.

The offense was down for both teams in the third quarter, but the Terps used defense to pull away. Maryland held Michigan to nine points in the quarter and didn’t allow Jankoska to score. The Terps continued to feed the ball to Jones and took a commanding 67-49 lead into the fourth quarter.

Kristen Confroy covered Jankoska for most of the game, and did an especially good job on the Michigan State senior in the third, holding her to 0-of-3 shooting. Confroy also had one of her best games in a while on the offensive end, scoring 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting to go along with four rebounds and three assists.

Head coach Suzy Merchant’s team was able to keep the game within reach in the fourth quarter, but Jones and the Terps were too much for the Spartans to handle. Jankoska tallied 10 points in the frame, but didn’t get enough help around her to pull off the upset.

The best help that Jankoska received the loss came from fellow senior guard Branndais Agee. She finished with 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting.

The Spartans shot 45 percent from the floor and 32 percent from three, which just wasn’t enough to take down the Terps. Jankoska and Agee combined for 15 of Michigan State’s 29 made baskets, and it was evident that the duo needed more help from the rest of the roster.

Destiny Slocum again had an off shooting night for Maryland, but she was again able to contribute in other ways. The freshman guard scored nine points on 2-of-7 shooting, but dished out eight assists and played a solid 35 minutes.

The Terps will now travel back to College Park to take on Wisconsin at the Xfinity Center at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Edited by Max Marcilla

Connor Newcomb
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Connor Newcomb

Connor is a journalism major from Fallston, Maryland. Aside from TLB, he has also worked for Maryland Baseball Network, WMUC Sports and Fish Stripes on SB Nation. It is said that he will never be truly happy until the Orioles win a World Series in his lifetime. He reminds you to never bunt.
Connor Newcomb
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About Connor Newcomb 100 Articles
Connor is a journalism major from Fallston, Maryland. Aside from TLB, he has also worked for Maryland Baseball Network, WMUC Sports and Fish Stripes on SB Nation. It is said that he will never be truly happy until the Orioles win a World Series in his lifetime. He reminds you to never bunt.