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Maryland women rolls to third straight Big Ten tournament title

Maryland is headed back to the NCAA tournament after defeating Purdue 74-64 in Sunday’s Big Ten Women’s Tournament championship in Indianapolis. Brionna Jones finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Terrapins to their third straight Big Ten tourney title.

Maryland (30-2) becomes the third team to win three straight Big Ten women tournaments. They entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed after losing the head-to-head tiebreaker against Ohio State — both teams went 15-1 in conference play. Purdue upset Ohio State in Saturday’s semifinals to advance to the championship.

Maryland led 39-35 at halftime after Purdue closed the half with back-to-back threes. Dominique Oden drained a three from the corner before the buzzer to give the Boilermakers momentum going into the locker room.

However, Maryland responded in the second half. The Terrapins broke open the game with a 9-0 run that extended their lead from 42-38 to 51-38 in the third quarter. Maryland never looked back from there. Leading 57-46, Maryland continued their relentless play outscoring Purdue 12-2 in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.

Ashley Morrissette led the Boilermakers with 18 points. But Maryland played a complete game shooting 51.8 percent from the field while holding Purdue to 38.3 percent shooting.

Analysis

The talented Terrapins clinch an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. They are expected to be a 2-seed when the field of 64 is announced on Mar. 14. The Terrapins’ chances of being a No. 1 seed slipped away with losses to nationally-ranked Connecticut and Ohio State, going 2-2 against top-25 teams. The Big Ten conference was in a down year and while the Terrapins went 15-1 in conference play, they have the 88th-toughest schedule, according to RPI rankings. The four No. 1 seeds appear to be locked with undefeated and defending national champions Connecticut, South Carolina, who won the more competitive SEC regular season and tournament titles, Baylor, and Notre Dame, who won their fourth consecutive ACC tournament.

Maryland has a deep and very talented team thanks to the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. Depending where they line up in the bracket they will be a strong favorite to reach the Elite Eight.

This will be Maryland’s 13 trip to the NCAA tournament in 15 seasons under head coach Brenda Frese. The Terps have reached three Final Fours and three additional appearances in the Elite Eight. In 2006 Frese and the program reached the pinnacle winning the program’s lone national championship.

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