Everything was going right for Maryland women’s basketball. The Terps entered the night coming off of three straight wins and led Rutgers by 13 points in the second quarter.

Then Lavender Briggs went down. The oft-injured senior guard couldn’t put any weight on her right leg and did not return to action on Wednesday.

Maryland closed the rest of the game out without her and extended its win streak to four games, defeating Rutgers, 81-62, at Xfinity Center. The Terps are playing some of their best basketball of the season, but potentially lost a key rotation piece in their tournament push.

Briggs was beginning to establish a role in the final stretch of her last season. She logged over 30 minutes in five of the Terps past seven games, averaging 9.3 points per game in that span. Coach Brenda Frese said Briggs’ injury will be evaluated on Thursday.

Maryland (16-10, 8-7 Big Ten) had no trouble handling Rutgers without Briggs, though.

While the Scarlet Knights (8-21, 2-14 Big Ten) are last in the conference standings, even the top teams have been prone to an upset. Rutgers beat Nebraska on the road on Feb. 3 and Illinois dominated No. 14 Indiana on Monday.
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But the home team took care of business on Wednesday. The Terps are peaking at the right time, especially on the defensive end. Maryland allowed just 58 points per game in their last three outings and shut down the Scarlet Knights in the first half.

Rutgers slowed the game down and tried to limit Maryland’s possessions. The Terps scored 1.4 points per possession but only led by five points at the end of the quarter.

The second frame was a defensive clinic. Maryland allowed a season-low four points in the quarter while Rutgers made just one field goal and turned the ball over eight times.

“That was the game, that second quarter,” Rutgers coach Coquese Washington said.

Frese praised the Terps’ defensive communication and physicality after Sunday’s win over Penn State, and her squad continued that on Wednesday night. Maryland had multiple full-shot clock defensive stands, executing rotations at a high level.

The Terps’ offense was efficient as well. Nine players scored while Shyanne Sellers led the way with 21 points, alongside 10 rebounds and eight assists.

“There’s really no easy way to guard us,” Sellers said. “I feel like everyone has to be a good defender if you want to keep up [with us].”

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Allie Kubek continued her stretch of aggressive scoring. The Towson transfer went through a midseason slump but has been much more assertive recently and added 16 bench points.

“Middle of the season, I definitely lost a little bit of confidence,” Kubek said. “But Coach [Frese] and all the coaches and even teammates, they instilled a lot of confidence in me, and they’re like ‘if you shoot the ball, it’s not gonna be a bad shot.’”

Jakia Brown-Turner, who averaged 20.4 points per game in Maryland’s last eight contests, had a productive but quieter night. The N.C. State transfer only scored 11 points after notching a career-high 32 against Penn State on Sunday.

The offense slowed down in the second half, though, converting at a 40 percent clip. The Terps’ defense also had a rough third quarter, allowing 27 points. Rutgers closed the gap to 14 to begin the fourth quarter.

It didn’t matter though. Maryland completely neutralized Rutgers’s offense in the final frame to end the night with a 19-point victory.

The Terps maintained pace with Michigan State and Nebraska with the win. They also stretched the gap between themselves and the middle portion of the conference.

Maryland still has a chance at the double-bye in the conference tournament, but would need to pull off an upset win. With two road games against ranked opponents remaining, it was critical the Terps won their home games. They did that and improved their position to make the NCAA tournament.