After exiting the locker room trailing Minnesota 45-36 on Thursday, Maryland women’s basketball guard Kaila Charles huddled up her squad, hoping to spark a second-half rally.

“We’re going to do this,” Charles told her teammates. “Fight for each other, play for each other, and we will come out with a win.”

The speech didn’t yield immediate results; the Terps trailed for all but six seconds of the second half. But Charles’ words weren’t lost on her teammates.

With under a minute remaining and Maryland facing a seemingly insurmountable seven-point deficit, the team scored nine straight points to win, 71-69. Charles obeyed her own message, with a last-second lay-in that gave the Terps their first and final lead of the game and upped her scoring total to a season-high 29 points.

[Read more: Miraculous comeback pushes No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball past Minnesota, 71-69]

Once again, with the Terps on the ropes, Charles delivered.

“What separates her is she wants the responsibility,” coach Brenda Frese said. “She wants that ownership every single night, and that’s what the best of the best players that I’ve been able to coach are able to do.”

From the onset, it was clear Charles wasn’t dwelling on her career-worst performance against No. 10 Iowa on Feb. 17.

On Maryland’s second possession, Charles sunk a jumper from the right of the key, equalling the number of shots she converted during her two-point outing in Iowa City. By halftime Thursday, the slashing guard was already up to eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.

“I wasn’t really worrying about that game, it was in the past,” Charles said. “You’re going to have bad games here and there, you’ve just gotta be able to play through it. And my teammates and my coach really helped me through that tough time.”

[Read more: Maryland basketball expects Kaila Charles to bounce back from the worst game of her career]

While Charles’s first 20 minutes against the Golden Gophers had already surpassed her dismal performance against the Hawkeyes, she was getting eaten alive on the other end of the floor.

Minnesota guard Destiny Pitts had 19 points on 5-for-9 shooting from behind the arc, and Charles’ usually solid on-ball defense was getting exposed possession after possession.

“I don’t really like to be scored on,” Charles said. “When she was hitting shots, I was kinda like, ‘Kaila, lock in, you’ve gotta do better on defense.’”

And the junior did lock in. Pitts had just five points on 1-for-4 shooting after leaving the locker room, and as Charles stepped up defensively, she kicked into another gear on offense.

Charles garnered 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting in the second half, and in the fourth quarter alone, she scored 13 points to up her total to 29 — the most she’s scored since dropping 32 points in a 99-69 win against Ohio State last season.

Even with Charles beginning to take over, the supporting cast didn’t raise its game accordingly. At one point, she was outscoring her struggling teammates 12-4 in the second half.

Still, Maryland never lost hope despite its struggling offense.

“The way Kaila was playing, she’s our leader, and the way she goes the team goes,” guard Taylor Mikesell said. “Coming in here as a freshman, just to play under and alongside Kaila’s leadership; I think it’s a blessing.”

And with Charles scoring six points during the final 9-0 run to complete the comeback, Maryland got just enough offense to dispatch the Golden Gophers and remain in first place in the Big Ten, drawing a raucous eruption from the Xfinity Center crowd and proving her earlier prediction correct.

In the Terps’ (24-3, 13-3 Big Ten) final road conference bout on Monday, however, they’ll likely need to start earlier to defeat NCAA Tournament hopeful Purdue (17-12, 8-8). And after responding well in her first game since the difficult Iowa matchup, Charles will get yet another opportunity to prove that letdown was a fluke.

“To come off of a tough game at Iowa, to then flip it that quickly,” Frese said. “It’s why she’s a winner and a competitor, and why we trust her so much.”