Maryland’s game against Penn State was its senior day. Long-serving players and transfers playing their fourth season of college basketball alike were celebrated, with their families and loved ones in attendance. 

While the festivities were an added bonus, the matchup mainly served as an opportunity for the Terps to get revenge against Penn State. Or, as Brinae Alexander put it on Friday, “an opportunity to get our get back.”

Maryland women’s basketball allowed the second most points in program history the last time it faced the Nittany Lions. Its defense was much sharper in the second meeting. Alexander and the Terps played with an apparent level of an intensity from the tip.

Maryland’s best defensive effort of the season held Penn State to a season-low 62 points. That combined with a career day from Jakia Brown-Turner, who scored 32 points, helped the Terps blow out the Nittany Lions, 77-62. Penn State turned it over 26 times, tied for their season high.

“This game was a lot more personal considering what happened last time,” Faith Masonius said.

Penn State made a season high 16 threes in the January matchup. Considering the Nittany Lions have scored 32.2 percent of its points from deep this season, per Her Hoop Stats, the plan of attack was not shocking.

[Lavender Briggs’ college career hasn’t been linear. She wants to end it how she started.]

Lavender Briggs said that Maryland’s defense was sloppy in the first matchup between the two teams. She said they made mistakes like playing strong side help defense off shooters and not getting back on defense. The squad was clearly focused on stopping the high-octane Penn State attack this time.

The Terps’ defense was more disciplined in their defensive principles in the rematch, limiting Nittany Lions shooters to difficult catch-and-shoot threes.

It started on the first possession of the game. Maryland (15-10, 7-7 Big Ten) nearly forced a Penn State shot clock violation with strong defensive rotations. The Nittany Lions coughed it up five times in the opening frame and shot 16.7 percent from three.

“We wanted to run them off the [three point] line,” coach Brenda Frese said.

Maryland’s defense was strong, but Penn State and its offense had also been sliding, losing four straight games entering the weekend matinee. The Nittany Lions (16-9, 7-8 Big Ten) averaged almost 10 points less than their season average in those four losses.

“[Maryland] played a lot of zone the first time, and they played a lot of man this time and it really exploited our lack of toughness,” Penn State coach Carolyn Kieger said.

Penn State’s defense, the third-worst in the conference, managed to sustain a closable deficit. Frese’s team converted on just 36.7 percent of their field goals in the first half, deterred by a trapping 1-2-2 zone defense.

A stagnant Terps offense led just 28-26 at halftime, giving Penn State’s quick-strike attack a reason to be confident if they could fix its offensive issues after the halftime break.

[Maryland women’s basketball pulls away in fourth quarter to beat Illinois, 69-53]

A senior turned the tide and kept the Nittany Lions at bay. Alexander, Lavender Briggs, Masonius and Brown-Turner were all honored Sunday. It was the most recent transfer who had the biggest day.

Brown-Turner has become a key player for the Terps after a slow start to the season. The NC State transfer has been Maryland’s leading scoring option over the past month and scored 32 points Sunday, 28 of which came after halftime.

“I’m happy [Brown-Turner] is picking up her confidence right when we need her to be,” Shyanne Sellers said. “Finding her groove and getting back into JBT shape.”

A personal 8-0 run from Brown-Turner in the third frame pushed Maryland ahead by six points with four minutes left in the third.

That spurt sprung the Terps ahead for good. Brown-Turner’s explosive second half lifted the Terps to a crucial win.

Not only was Sunday’s victory a win over another NCAA tournament hopeful, but it bumped Maryland all the way up to sixth in the conference, ahead of Michigan and Penn State.

It also qualified as a Quad 1 win, as Penn State sat at No. 26 in the NET rankings entering today’s matchup. Now, the Terps might be sitting on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble with four games left in the regular season.