EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Diamond Miller understands what's in store for No. 8 Maryland with the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments approaching and how games like this can help prepare a team.
The Terrapins overcame a difficult first quarter, then turned things around in a big way. By the time they were through, they had another lopsided victory.
Miller scored 18 points and Maryland beat struggling Northwestern 79-54 on Thursday night.
“When we go into the (conference) tournament, we have no breaks and we’re gonna play three games in three days,” Miller said. “That’s what we potentially want to do, so we can’t have a game where were we don’t play good — or a quarter where we don’t play good, because we can lose and then go home and then we’re gonna be crying.”
The Terrapins (20-5, 12-3 Big Ten) certainly weren't shedding any tears after this one. They shook off a rough start by holding Northwestern (8-16, 1-12) without a field goal in the second quarter and rolled the rest of the way.
Brir McDaniel scored 14 points as the Terrapins followed up the program’s most lopsided win over a top 10 opponent with another dominant performance. They also reached the 20-win mark for the 19th year in a row.
“It's something that I'm really proud of, that consistency factor and so many great players that have come before us as well as currently,” said coach Brenda Frese, in her 21st season at Maryland. “It's that legacy for us that's really important. Also, so many great coaching staffs.”
Coming off a 90-54 romp over then-No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday, Maryland outscored Northwestern 18-2 in the second quarter. The Terps took a 12-point lead to the locker room and never looked back.
Miller, the Big Ten’s third-leading scorer, had nine rebounds and seven assists. The 6-foot-3 guard went to the locker room holding her hand over her eye early in the third quarter, but returned a few minutes later.
McDaniel, a Chicago product, put on a show for her family. The freshman shot 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
Abby Meyers scored 12 as Maryland won for the seventh time in eight games.
Paige Mott led Northwestern with 15 points. But the Wildcats lost for the 11th time in 13 games.
Northwestern missed 15 consecutive field goals at one point and shot just 35% overall. The Wildcats were 2 of 18 on 3-pointers.
Northwestern led 20-16 through the first quarter after Jillian Brown nailed a pull-up jumper at the buzzer. But things turned around in a big way after that.
The Wildcats missed all 13 field goal attempts in the second. Their only points in the period came when Courtney Shaw rattled in two free throws with 27 seconds remaining in the half to cut it to 34-22.
By then, Maryland had scored 18 straight.
Miller had nine of her 12 first-half points in that stretch, including a free throw and driving layup early in the quarter and two more foul shots in the final minute. McDaniel made a late 3 and the aggressive Terps were 7 of 12 overall from the field in the period.
“It's kind of hard being away from my family because we're so family oriented," McDaniel said. "This being home and being able to see every last family member that I had here, just being able to play for them was amazing.”
Maryland: The Terps turned up their defense and were more aggressive at the basket after a sluggish start. That propelled them to their second straight lopsided win after losing to then-No. 6 Iowa one week earlier.
Northwestern: The Wildcats have lost five straight against top 10 teams — including four this season — since beating then-No. 4 Michigan in double overtime a year ago. They are also 0-8 against ranked opponents this season.
Maryland: Host Illinois on Sunday.
Northwestern: Visit Purdue on Sunday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25