MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Shyanne Sellers headed to the bench after picking up her second foul a minute into the second quarter with Maryland trailing Illinois by 12 points. The Terps looked shell-shocked early in their first game at the Target Center as the Fighting Illini shot 68.8 percent from the field in the opening quarter.

Seller picked up her fourth foul with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. In a must-win game for the Terps, they were without their best player for 14 minutes.

Sellers and Jakia Brown-Turner combined to score 25 points on 40.9 percent shooting. Over the course of Maryland’s season, that’s generally equated to a loss. But the Terps secondary pieces kept the squad’s tournament hopes alive on Thursday in Minneapolis.

Maryland (18-12, 9-9 Big Ten) beat Illinois (14-14, 8-10 Big Ten) 75-65 to advance to the quarterfinal of the Big Ten Tournament. Three Terps scored at least three points over their season average, including Brinae Alexander and Allie Kubek, who each finished with double-digit points.

The Terps were 3-7 when Sellers scored less than 15 points in conference play entering Thursday. Her struggles in big games continued, but the Terps role players replaced her production against Illinois.

[Maryland comes back to beat Illinois, 75-65, and advances to Big Ten tourney quarterfinal]

“You got to be able to have that [scoring depth] in tournament play,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said.

Allie Kubek started the game slowly, missing several easy layups and was 0-for-2 from the field in the first quarter. But Kubek, who only made 10 threes in the regular season, found herself wide open on the left wing twice. She knocked both triples down, including one that Alexander assisted.

“Credit to her because Brinae could’ve shot that and it probably would’ve went in,” Kubek said.

The Towson transfer was billed as a pick-and-pop big when she came to College Park. That shooting ability has never fully materialized. When Kubek does let it fly, though, she’s been efficient and improved to 46.2 percent from deep.

Allie Kubek shoots during Maryland women’s basketball’s 75-65 win against Illinois on March 7, 2024.(Rohan Pandit/The Diamondback)

While Kubek doesn’t shoot from three much, that’s what Alexander does best. The Vanderbilt transfer made three triples. Her third of the day came with about three minutes left in the third quarter and brought Maryland within one.

Alexander’s production has waned this season. Her effective field goal percentage has dropped as she’s shooting five percent worse from deep while her two-point scoring has also decreased.

A lot of that regression can be attributed to her shot quality. Teams are much more aware of her shooting ability and Maryland does not have the same shot creators as it did last year.

[3 Maryland women’s basketball players receive All-Big Ten honors]

Still, an aggressive Alexander tends to lead to good things for Maryland. The Terps are now 7-5 when she attempts more than eight shots.

“In our scout, we’re saying ‘do not let Alexander get an open three,’” Illinois coach Shauna Green said.

“Some other guys that don’t normally score as much, scored,” she added.

It was the Terps’ longest-tenured player who scored a massive basket after Sellers fouled out. Faith Masonius grabbed an offensive rebound and put back a layup to push Maryland ahead by six. The game never got closer than that.

The Terps may need better performances from its leading scorers against better competition to advance in March. That starts on Friday against top-seeded Ohio State.

It’s no secret that Maryland’s depth is scarce — but Thursday’s win was an encouraging sign that its secondary pieces can fill the void.