INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Taylor Mikesell excelled outside the arc. Inside the paint, that’s where Stephanie Jones and Shakira Austin ruled.
It was the perfect combination for No. 6 Maryland.
Mikesell made six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points while Jones and Austin each posted double-doubles as the Terrapins pulled away from Purdue 74-62 Friday in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.
“We took her out of her natural position (earlier this season), so that took time, and selfishly it impacted her with how she was playing the game,” coach Brenda Frese said of Mikesell.
“But I think now as we’ve been able to get in some comfortable rotations and with our freshmen settling in a little bit more, it’s made it a lot easier. We’ve been able to find her easier,” she said.
The timing couldn’t be better with top-seeded Maryland (26-4) trying to improve its NCAA Tournament seeding.
And with Mikesell leading the way, the Terrapins demonstrated just how dominant they could be — even on an off-day. Despite getting only four points from leading scorer Kaila Charles and shooting 35.7% from the field, the Terrapins still extended their winning streak to 15 and reached the semifinals for the sixth straight season.
Jones finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds, Austin added 12 points and 11 rebounds and Mikesell bailed out the Terrapins with a decisive flurry that started late in the third quarter.
“I feel good,” Mikesell said. “Really we’re just trying to stay hot from behind the arc and as a team.”
It all began when Blair Watson grabbed a rebound off Purdue’s errant 3 and got the ball to Miksell for an open 3 with 4 seconds left. It gave Maryland a 55-44 lead.
Jones opened the fourth with a putback, Mikesell followed with another 3, Charles made a mid-range jumper and Mikesell closed out the 12-0 run with a layup that made it 64-44 with 8:02 left.
The Boilermakers (18-14) never recovered. Karissa McLaughlin and Dominique Oden each scored 15 to lead Purdue, which has lost three straight to Maryland and seven of its last 10 overall.
“We didn’t control the tempo during that time,” Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. “If you’re missing, that’s when they take advantage, and obviously we were missing during that time.”
Purdue: A win would have helped solidify the Boilermakers’ NCAA Tournament case. Instead, they must now wait 10 days to see whether an 18-14 record, a middle of the pack finish in league play and a third consecutive early exit in the league tourney will be good enough to make the field.
Maryland: The Terrapins looked rusty for most of the first three quarters. It didn’t really matter. After clinching its fifth regular-season title Sunday, Maryland is one win away from reaching its sixth consecutive tourney title game and two wins from earning a fourth tourney crown in six years.
Purdue: Fatou Diagne had 11 points and 12 rebounds while Ae’Rianna Harris had 10 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Harris finished her career with a tournament-record 28 career blocks. … Oden also had six rebounds and eight assists. … The Boilermakers were outrebounded 54-36, including 24-9 on the offensive end.
Maryland: Mikesell fell one point short and one 3-pointer short of matching career bests. … Big Ten freshman of the year Ashley Owusu had 15 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. … Maryland took 84 shots, 26 more than Purdue. … The Terrapins had a 21-3 offensive rebounding advantage in the first half.
THEY SAID IT
Purdue: “They’ve been averaging 50 to 60 points in the paint, and today we held them to 32 points in the paint, which was really, really important for us to be successful,” Versyp said.
Maryland: “I thought you saw a team in Purdue that was extremely hungry, extremely talented,” Frese said. “I thought they battled for 40 minutes, really showed why we should have eight teams in the NCAA Tournament.”
Purdue: Must wait to find out its fate.
Maryland: Faces fourth-seeded Indiana, a 78-60 winner over Rutgers, in Saturday’s semifinal.
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