With 27.4 seconds left in the second quarter, Northwestern forward Courtney Shaw chuckled to herself and shook her head from the free-throw line.
She had just scored the Wildcats’ first of two points in the quarter. They were the only points in the second frame for the home team — Northwestern missed all 13 of its shots from the field in the second.
After holding No. 13 Ohio State to a season-low seven first-quarter points Sunday, No. 8 Maryland (20-5, 11-3 Big Ten) picked up its defensive intensity at Welsh-Ryan Arena and blew out Northwestern, 79-54.
“That just shows how good our defense can be and how we continue to work and execute the game plan,” Diamond Miller said. “We can play some really good defense, and I mean, that’s really impressive, though, like, almost a whole quarter. Wow.”
The Wildcats (8-16, 1-12), who started the season 0-9 in Big Ten play, were always going to be the underdog against a Maryland team coming off its largest win versus a top-10 program that has lost just two away matches this season.
While the Terps started the game on a 7-0 run, the Wildcats outscored the visitors in the first, capping the quarter with a buzzer-beater two to solidify a four-point advantage.
“Northwestern was really, really aggressive and had the right mentality coming into that first quarter,” coach Brenda Frese said.
Maryland, which came into the game second in the conference with a 79 percent free-throw percentage, had an uncharacteristically poor quarter from the line, making just four of eight looks in the opening 10 minutes — Miller, Shyanne Sellers and Faith Masonius missed at least one try.
“We were disappointed in our first quarter,” Frese said, “but I thought it was a terrific response after that. I thought the next three quarters we played extremely hard.”
To start the second, as Northwestern saw shot after shot clang off the backboard, the Terps began to find their rhythm on the offensive end; they opened on a 9-0 run and closed things out with an 18-2 advantage.
The hosts’ shooting woes continued into the third. By the time Sydney Wood scored an uncontested layup, just over 12 minutes had passed since the team’s last basket.
Northwestern cut the deficit to 12 midway through the third, but Maryland hit back to quell any chance of a comeback. The Terps, who have emphasized punching first, opened each quarter scoring at least the first seven points en route to a comfortable conference victory.
Miller got to the free-throw line 10 times and finished with a game-high 18 points. She was three assists and one rebound shy of Maryland’s first triple-double since Alyssa Thomas in 2014.
“I thought Diamond took over and really made what an all-American should,” Frese said. “Just making that statement on both ends of the floor being aggressive.”
In front of a local cheering crowd of nearly 30 people, Chicago native Bri McDaniel had a career-high in points (14), minutes (21), 3-point makes (four) and attempts (six) and field goal tries (nine). The freshman has attributed her recent success to the game slowing down and feeling more comfortable in the rotation.
“It felt good to come back home and play,” McDaniel said. “It’s kind of hard being away from my family because we so family oriented, so just being home and being able to see every last family member that I had here was amazing.”
Frese has also been effusive in praising McDaniel, saying the guard’s strong practices have foreshadowed her success in games.
Paige Mott finished with 15 points for the hosts, with no other Wildcat reaching double digits.
Ten Maryland players scored as the Terps made it 19 straight seasons with 20-plus wins. It also held its second straight opponent to just 54 points, the joint fourth-lowest output for Northwestern this season.
“We’re really proud of that consistency factor,” Frese said. “So many great players that have come before — currently, it’s that legacy for us that’s really important.”