57 seconds into the game, freshman guard Taylor Mikesell drove through the Nittany Lion defense straight to the basket. A simple score, it was the beginning of a career day. Mikesell scored a career-high 23 points scoring in a variety of ways leading the Terps (16-2 5-2 B1G) to a 79-67 victory.
Mikesell came out of the gates strong, scoring eight points in the first quarter and equaling the Nittany Lions total. The Terps offensive leader, junior guard Kaila Charles, also scored eight points in the first quarter, consistently attacking the basket. While Charles and Mikesell led the way offensively, the Terps made it difficult for Penn State offensively, limiting them to 19 percent shooting.
After struggling mightily from the field in the first quarter, Penn State scored 27 points in the second and shot 62.5 percent from the field. The Nittany Lions forced Maryland into eight first half turnovers, converting 16 points off of them. As a result of the turnovers, Penn State pushed out in transition and capitalized on their fast break opportunities.
With the score tied at 35 at half, both teams entered the third quarter looking to establish an advantage. Holding Maryland scoreless for 3:11, Penn State executed a 9-0 run to take its largest lead of the game 44-39 with 6:39 remaining in the third quarter. Slowly trimming the lead, the Terps anchored down defensively, not allowing a field goal the final 5:20 of the third quarter. As a result of their suffocating defense, the Terps closed the third quarter on a 8-0 run propelled by Charles and senior forward Brianna Fraser, who led Maryland with seven points in the frame.
To close out the game, Maryland played its most efficient offense shooting 66.7 percent from the field. Using their size advantage inside, the Terps guards fed the ball inside to Fraser and freshman forward Shakira Austin. Both combined to convert on six of their seven shot opportunities. Continuing her strong play from the first three quarters, Mikesell added seven fourth quarter points to help Maryland establish their double-digit advantage.
Improved offensive efficiency and ball security allowed Maryland to establish the lead in the second half. Committing eight turnovers in the first half, the Terps cut that total in half in the second half. As a result of the improved ball security, Penn State was not able to push the pace and score easy baskets in transition as often. After shooting 42 percent in the first half, Maryland shot 58 percent in the second half establishing a post presence converting on their in tight opportunities. The Terps scored 40 points in the paint, while the Nittany Lions scored just 28.
Maryland will now travel to Columbus on Thursday looking to sweep the season series from the Buckeyes, with tip-off scheduled for 8:00 p.m.
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