COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The sixth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team (27-3, 16-2 B1G) captured the Big Ten regular season title Sunday, getting a career-high 29 points from senior Tierney Pfirman and 24 from Brionna Jones in a lopsided 110-77 victory over Minnesota (19-10, 11-7).
Maryland will enter the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 1 seed for a second straight season. The Terrapins closed the season with six consecutive wins to overtake No. 5 Ohio State.
At the beginning of the season, Maryland was the overwhelming choice to win the conference crown. After a 94-86 defeat at Ohio State on Feb. 8, the Terrapins dropped into second place.
In the end, though, Maryland finished exactly where it expected.
“This one’s special,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “Thisone I’m going to remember for a long time. You couldn’t have scripted it any better for our seniors, to be able to send them out in a game of this fashion — a picture-perfect game in terms of how we were able to dominate.”
Rachel Banham, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, finished with 26 for Minnesota. Banham picked up her second foul late in the first quarter and contributed only nine points in the decisive first half, which ended with the Terrapins up 52-34.
The Gophers were coming off a 90-88 upset of Ohio State but could not pull off an encore against Maryland, which shredded the worst defensive team in the conference.
“Credit to Maryland. They came out with great enthusiasm and high energy,” coach Marlene Stollings said. “They were competing for a Big Ten championship today and I thought it showed from the jump. Just a well-oiled machine.”
After being honored before the game on Senior Day, the 6-foot-2 Pfirman easily eclipsed her previous career high of 17 points and grabbed a personal best 13 rebounds.
“It feels good,” Pfirman said. “I just kind of go with the flow, just go out and have fun and play.”
She had plenty of help from a Maryland team deep in talent. Jones missed only two shots, Shartori Walker-Kimbrough had 19 points and 11 rebounds and the Terrapins finished with a 53-23 advantage on the boards.
Minnesota went 2 for 8 with five turnovers while falling behind 16-7. It was 25-23 early in the second quarter before Jones scored seven straight points to spark a 12-2 run that put the Terrapins up by 14.
Maryland went 1 for 12 beyond the arc in the first half, a stark contrast to its nation-leading 42 percent average. It didn’t matter, though, because the Terps held the Gophers to 36 percent shooting and amassed a 29-14 advantage on the boards.
Any hope Minnesota had of making a comeback was dashed early in the third quarter when successive 3-pointers by Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Kristen Confroy started a 10-0 spurt that put Maryland up 68-41.
Maryland honored its four seniors – Malina Howard, Brene Moseley, Chloe Pavlech andTierney Pfirman – prior to Sunday’s game. As a group, they’ve earned a record 146-23 (.864) overall and a record of 80-7 (.920) at home at the XFINITY Center. They helped the Terrapins to the 2012 ACC title, 2012 Elite Eight, 2013 Sweet Sixteen, 2014 Final Four, 2015 and 2016 titles and the 2015 Final Four.
Moseley is at 985 career points and 420 career assists after Sunday’s game. She needs just 15 points to become the 32nd Terp to reach 1,000 points.
The Terps partnered with Play4TheCure at Sunday’s game. Play4TheCure is a fundraising platform for the National Foundation for Cancer Research which provides funding worldwide to the best scientists to enable cutting edge research.
Maryland will be the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Terps will play either the 8-seed Iowa or 9-seed Michigan Friday at noon on the Big Ten Network, the BTN2Go app and BTN2Go.com. Click here for the full Big Ten Tournament bracket and information.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.