Six players finished in double figures for No. 10 Maryland (20-2 9-2 B1G) with offense coming all over the court in its 80-66 victory over Illinois. With the victory, Maryland is now tied for first in the conference with Rutgers, who it will face on the road on Sunday. The Terps have now won five in a row, all by double figures.
All five starters for Maryland finished in double figures, combining for 65 of Maryland’s 80 points. Freshman forward Shakira Austin led the way with 17 points and seven rebounds, shooting efficiently while using her size and length in the paint. In addition to contributions from both the starters and bench, Maryland outrebounded Illinois 44-32, including a 29-20 in defensive rebounds.
The Terps closed out the first quarter strong on a 15-2 run, extending the lead to 26-14. Austin and freshman guard Taylor Mikesell scored 11 of Maryland’s 15 points during the run, helping to provide a spark. Continuing their momentum from the first quarter with 4:43 remaining in the first half, the Terps led by 23, looking like they would run away with the game. However, Illinois closed the half on a 15-2 run of their own, trimming the deficit to 11 at the half.
Despite trailing by 14, Illinois battled throughout the second half with Maryland, cutting the deficit to seven in the fourth quarter. With the lead trimmed to seven, the Terps offensive leader, junior guard Kaila Charles, drove inside beginning an 8-1 run for Maryland. Immediately following the layup, Austin emphatically blocked Brandi Beasley, the Illini’ leading scorer on the night, with 8:17 remaining in the game, crushing Illinois’ hopes of completing a comeback.
The Terps defense clamped down in the fourth quarter, limiting the Illini to 26.8 percent shooting including 1-8 from behind the arc. In the final frame, Illinois scored a game-low 12 points, struggling to create open opportunities over Maryland’s length and fast rotating defense. Maryland also attempted 10 of its 22 free throws in the fourth quarter, consistently attacking the basket and creating good opportunities inside.
Now Maryland will return home and host Northwestern (14-8 7-4 B1G) at the Xfinity Center on Thursday with tip-off scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
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