MINNEAPOLIS (AP)Taylor Mikesell scored 22 points on 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point range to lead seventh-ranked Maryland’s romp past Minnesota 99-44 on Sunday afternoon as the Terrapins forged a tie for the Big Ten title and finished the regular season on a 14-game winning streak.
Ashley Owusu had 17 points, Kaila Charles added 15 points and Stephanie Jones and Shakira Austin each pitched in 13 points for the Terrapins (25-4, 16-2), who shared first place with Northwestern and recorded their fifth regular-season conference championship in just six years in the league. The Terps won the tiebreaker with the Wildcats and will have the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament next weekend.
Sara Scalia scored 10 points for the Gophers (15-14, 5-13), who lost their sixth straight game and suffered their most lopsided loss in two seasons under coach Lindsay Whalen. Taiye Bello, one of four seniors playing in their final home game, had seven points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota.
Northwestern’s first conference title share in three decades – since finishing as co-champs with Iowa in 1989-90 – became the story of the winter in Big Ten women’s basketball. Maryland’s dominance down the stretch wasn’t much of a plot twist, but this was one of the best productions in coach Brenda Frese’s 18 seasons.
The Terrapins last lost on Jan. 9 at third-place Iowa. Since then, the only opponents to come closer than 18 points were Northwestern (70-61) and Indiana (76-62 and 79-69). The average margin of victory in Maryland’s last six games was 37.8 points.
The Terrapins, who are the fifth-highest scoring team in the country, had a 54-16 advantage in points in the paint, drawing three-point plays at will.
Maryland’s defense might be even more dangerous. The Terrapins posted 24 steals and forced 35 turnovers. Gophers freshman point guard Jasmine Powell, who had four 20-plus-point games in February, finished with six points on 2-for-10 shooting and had 10 turnovers. After making their first three shots, the Gophers went 12 for 51 from the floor over the rest of the game.
Maryland: Frese, who spent one season at Minnesota in 2001-02 when Whalen was a sophomore on the team, steered the Terrapins to the 2006 national title and took them back to the Final Four in 2014 and 2015. This team is well-stocked and well-poised for another deep run.
Minnesota: Whalen and her staff have a long way to go to get the Gophers back in contention for NCAA Tournament bids and Big Ten titles. Their midseason setback of losing leading scorer Destiny Pitts, who announced Jan. 16 she was transferring after being suspended in a dispute with Whalen and the staff over about attitude, was too much to overcome. They went 4-13 after Dec. 28.
Maryland: Gets a double bye into the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. The Terrapins play on Friday afternoon in Indianapolis against the No. 8 seed Michigan State-No. 9 seed Purdue winner.
Minnesota: Has the No. 11 seed for the Big Ten tournament, meaning a first-round matchup against last-place Penn State on Wednesday afternoon. With a win, the Gophers would play No. 6 seed Ohio State on Thursday night.
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