PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The eighth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team continued to find the road accommodating in its inaugural season in the Big Ten, using a decisive second-half burst to overcome a substantial blown lead in pulling away from No. 24 Rutgers, 71-59, on Thursday night at Rutgers Athletic Center.
The Terrapins never trailed on the way to winning their eighth in a row to extend their season-high streak, and their third straight triumph on the road against a ranked opponent was particularly special for Laurin Mincy. The redshirt senior scored a season-high 24 points, one short of matching a career best, roughly a 20-minute drive from her home in Newark and in her first college game in her home state.
In front of an announced 2,116, sophomore point guard Lexie Brown and sophomore forward Shatori Walker-Kimbrough each added 13 for Maryland, which remained the only undefeated team in the conference. Sophomore center Brionna Jones chipped in 12 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Terrapins (14-2, 5-0 Big Ten) now have beaten three of the other four ranked teams in the Big Ten. They also toppled then-No. 12 Nebraska, 75-47, in Lincoln, Neb., in their first conference road game and then outlasted No. 23 Minnesota, 77-73, in Coach Brenda Frese’s return to the school where she won national coach of the year in 2001-02, her only season with the Golden Gophers.
“Just really proud of our team,” Frese said. “This game was a battle, obviously extremely physical. Two aggressive teams that had to battle back and forth in terms of a game of runs, but loved the fact that we were able to keep our poise and our composure and really there late in the second half be able to extend our lead to be able to help us through a lot of adversity.”
In Maryland’s third road game in 12 days, an early 18-point lead shrunk to four at the start of the second half, and soon it disappeared altogether when Briyona Canty’s layup evened the score at 40 with 18 minutes 52 seconds to play. Canty scored another layup to tie the game at 42 before Maryland scored six of the next seven points, ending with Brown’s steal and uncontested layup for a 48-43 lead less than four minutes into the second half.
Shortly before that sequence, Rutgers guard/forward Betnijah Laney was called for her fourth personal foul, sending the team’s top rebounder and second leading scorer to the bench for the next four minutes. Maryland capitalized with six consecutive points starting with both ends of a one-and-one from Mincy. Walker-Kimbrough’s jumper soon after grew the lead to 56-48 as part of a 16-4 surge.
Maryland bumped its advantage to double figures on Mincy’s driving layup, and the proceedings turned especially physical over the next few minutes. First, Canty was called for a flagrant foul that led to a pair of foul shots by Maryland junior guard Brene Moseley for a 62-50 lead. On the Scarlet Knights’ next possession, Mincy grabbed Kahleah Copper on a layup attempt, drawing an intentional foul.
“When we went [on] our run, Rutgers turned up their intensity and aggressiveness,” Brown said. “I was proud of us. We did get that one intentional foul, but I’m glad we didn’t retaliate. That’s just not how we play.”
The Terrapins showed no early jitters playing at one of the most inhospitable arenas, opening with 10 straight points. Another 10 consecutive points swelled the lead to 25-7 with 13:32 to go until intermission.
But just when the competitive portion of the game appeared in jeopardy, Rutgers (12-5, 3-3) countered with 12 in a row following a timeout. A burst moments later cut the margin to five with 1:42 to go until the break, and the Terrapins were on the ropes heading into the locker room when Tyler Scaife’s jumper rattled around the rim and through at the buzzer to pull the Scarlet Knights within 40-36.
“It felt really good obviously coming here and having my family, friends, old coaches and teammates here supporting me,” said Mincy, whose last game in New Jersey was as a senior in the state high school championship. “I knew that my teammates were going to come in and fight for me all night, and luckily we came out with the win.”