Maryland and Illinois traded baskets to start the fourth quarter as the Terps hung onto a one possession advantage, needing a stop to secure their lead.
When Makira Cook’s shot hit the rim, Jakia Brown-Turner nabbed the ball and jumpstarted Maryland’s offense. After a Shyanne Sellers shot fell short on the other side, she did the same, grabbing a rebound for a crucial second-chance basket that grew her team’s advantage late in the game.
The NC State transfer powered a 12-2 Maryland run all on her own in the fourth quarter that gave the Terps a commanding lead. Brown-Turner finished with 20 points, her most as a Terp, and 10 rebounds to record her second double-double of the season.
“My coaches and teammates have confidence in me to keep shooting when I’m open,” she said of her fourth quarter mindset. “Just making the right play is all I want to do.”
Maryland women’s basketball beat Illinois 90-82 behind Brown-Turner’s late outburst and a collective offensive effort. Four players scored in double-digits and all eight players who saw the floor added to the total.
Maryland, one game after allowing too many offensive rebounds in its loss against Ohio State, once again struggled on the boards early. Illinois used second-chance points to pull ahead, 6-2, in the opening minutes of the game.
The Terps (12-6, 4-3 Big Ten) quickly adjusted their defense and forced six Fighting Illini turnovers in the first quarter. Maryland looked to Bri McDaniel to overcome the early deficit, who continued to be the difference maker after averaging 20.3 points in the Terps’ last three games.
After making a jumper, McDaniel immediately went to work on defense, forcing Illinois to make a pass that Brown-Turner easily intercepted. From there, the sophomore raced back to her team’s basket to receive a bounce-pass and make an easy layup, tying the game at eight.
She scored 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the first quarter and finished Saturday’s contest with a game-high 22 points.
After three scoreless games in which Allie Kubek played no more than 14 minutes due to her struggles finding a place in Maryland’s zone defense, the redshirt junior played a large role against the Fighting Illini (8-9, 2-5 Big Ten) in the first half.
Kubek played 17 of 20 minutes and used her size to box out Illinois center Camille Hobby. She tallied 10 points and four rebounds in the first half and finished Saturday’s contest with 17 points — her highest mark since Dec. 12, 2023.
“We need her on the floor and the presence that she’s able to give us, so [today’s game] speaks volumes of Allie and her play to stay the course,” Frese said.
But the Fighting Illini kept pace with the Terps and hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to cut Maryland’s lead to just two at the break.
Coach Brenda Frese’s squad has struggled after halftime in the month of January, especially in close games, but the Terps came out of the locker room with renewed offensive energy Saturday afternoon.
After slow shooting starts from both Sellers and Brinae Alexander, the duo scored their first points of the game and helped the Terps build a double-digit lead in the third quarter. Sellers finished the frame with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
Despite Maryland’s reinvigorated offense, fouls put Illinois in the bonus and prevented the Terps from growing and holding onto their advantage. The Fighting Illini went 16-for-16 from the line on Saturday and cut Maryland’s lead to three at the end of the third quarter.
While Maryland was able to pull away thanks to key contributions from Brown-Turner, Illinois kept fighting until the end, using fouls to stop the game clock and time outs to advance the ball. The game remained just out of reach for the Fighting Illini as Sellers and McDaniel’s perfect shooting from the free throw line in the final minute of the game helped restore the Terps winning record in Big Ten play.
“We’re just figuring out … how to seal games at the end,” Sellers said. “We’re just becoming Maryland.”