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No. 2 Maryland women top Minnesota to clinch 1st place tie in Big Ten

No. 2 Maryland women top Minnesota to clinch 1st place tie in Big Ten

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- First, there was the trophy presentation to Maryland for finishing in first place in the Big Ten.

Then, seniors Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had their jersey numbers lifted to the rafters of the arena in recognition of their outstanding play over the past four years.

"To have all that happen on the same day, you couldn't ask for a better way to end the regular season," Jones said after No. 2 Maryland romped past Minnesota 93-60 on Sunday.

Jones had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Walker-Kimbrough tallied 27 points and six assists. Seeing their numbers on banners hanging from the roof was special, but the duo took more delight in finishing no worse than tied atop the Big Ten standings.

"Being that the Big Ten regular season title was one of our goals, it's really cool to see everything play out," Walker-Kimbrough said. "This ride is far from over, but we're 1-for-1 right now."

Maryland has won at least a share of the conference regular-season title in each of its three years in the Big Ten. This week, the Terrapins (27-2, 15-1) will set out to win the conference tournament for the third year in a row.

Maryland will enter as the second seed as Ohio State defeated Rutgers later Sunday. Although the Terrapins will be recognized as the regular season co-champions, the Buckeyes are the No. 1 seed by virtue of their 98-87 victory over Maryland on Monday.

None of that took the luster off the trophy presentation and the banner-raising ceremony.

"Obviously, I'm extremely proud of our team, and to be able to send our seniors on such an incredible day," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I'm proud of the consistency factor, when you talk about back-to-back-to-back regular season titles.

Eager to rebound from its second loss of the season and send their seniors out in style, the Terps wasted little time taking control against the struggling Golden Gophers (14-15, 5-11).

"We knew we were coming into a hostile environment, no question," Minnesota coach Marlene Stollings said.

Maryland made 10 of 14 shots in the first quarter in building a 26-12 lead, upped the margin to 27 points with three minutes left in the first half and cruised to the finish.

"That first quarter, we dug quite a hole," Stollings said.

Kenisha Bell led Minnesota with 18 points. The Golden Gophers will enter the Big Ten tournament coming off three straight lopsided losses.

Jones scored 16 points before halftime and Walker-Kimbrough added 15 to stake Maryland to a 51-30 lead. Walker-Kimbrough had eight points and two assists in the third quarter, enabling the Terrapins to bring a 27-point cushion into the final period.

The fourth quarter was a prelude to the postgame ceremony for Jones -- now the third-leading rebounder in school history with 1,139 -- and Walker-Kimbrough, who's fifth on the Maryland career scoring list with 2,036 points.

Both left to a standing ovation with 3:46 left.

"These guys, they work so hard that they make it look so easy," Frese said. "The thing is, it's not easy."

BIG PICTURE

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers can't hang with the top teams in the Big Ten and finished with their worst regular-season record in the conference since 2010-11.

Maryland: The Terrapins can expect to drop in the rankings because of Monday's defeat, but this blowout shows they're still very capable of winning a third straight Big Ten tournament and going deep in the NCAA tournament.

UP NEXT

Minnesota: Opens Big Ten tournament play on Thursday as the 10th seed. "We're going to go in with the idea it's 0-0, let's try to get on a run," Stollings said.

Maryland: Begins Big Ten tournament play on Friday.

MORE TERPS: MARYLAND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL IS THE 2-SEED IN THE BIG TEN TOURNAMENT

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Former Terp Stefon Diggs plays hero in Vikings' miracle playoff win

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Former Terp Stefon Diggs plays hero in Vikings' miracle playoff win

MINNEAPOLIS -- There wasn't much left for Case Keenum to do but to fling the ball deep and hope for a miracle.

Miracle answered.

Keenum completed a last-ditch heave near the sideline Sunday on the game's final play, and Stefon Diggs slithered away for a 61-yard touchdown to give Minnesota a 29-24 victory over New Orleans and send the Vikings to the NFC championship game, with one more win needed to become a first-time Super Bowl host.

Drew Brees had driven the Saints in position for Wil Lutz's go-ahead 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining, punctuating a steely rally from a 17-point deficit that stood until 1:16 was left in the third quarter.

The Vikings were out of timeouts and nearly out of options when Keenum dropped back with 10 seconds to go from his 39 and threw high into a crowd. Diggs jumped in front of Marcus Williams, who rolled awkwardly underneath Diggs during an ill-fated attempt at a tackle.

Diggs held his ground, kept his feet in bounds and raced untouched into the end zone as the crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium erupted.

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"I'm just thankful," Diggs said. "They count us out all the time. Nobody thinking we can do it. This game was over. I don't stop playing till the clock hit zero. That's it."

This wasn't quite Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception for Pittsburgh in the 1972 playoffs, but these Vikings are on some kind of special path. They finished 13-3 during the regular season, giving the career backup Keenum the keys to the offense after Sam Bradford went down with a knee injury after the opener.

The Vikings will play at Philadelphia next weekend, after Jacksonville takes on New England for the AFC title. The Super Bowl is in Minnesota two weeks later.

"A heck of a game, wasn't it?" coach Mike Zimmer said. "And the good guys won."

Now the Vikings have spun an unprecedented scenario in NFL history. Next weekend, instead of the usual win-or-go-home stakes, they're in a win-and-go-home situation with the Super Bowl set for Feb. 4 under the reverberating translucent roof of U.S. Bank Stadium.

Though only defensive end Brian Robison remains from the 2009 team that lost in overtime of the NFC championship game at New Orleans, the Vikings exacted some revenge on Brees and the Saints, at least for their long-frustrated fans.

They put them through quite the emotional finish to complete it.

Brees connected with Michael Thomas for two of his three touchdown passes in a span of 3:09 of the second half. The first score came after a 12-play, 80-yard drive. The second was set up at the Minnesota 40 by an interception by Williams after an off-balance throw by Keenum, his one costly moment of either inexperience or recklessness.

When George Johnson blocked Ryan Quigley's punt, the Saints took over at the Vikings 40. Four plays later, rookie Alvin Kamara, whose breakout was a major factor in the team's NFC South title and breakthrough from three straight 7-9 finishes, caught a 14-yard pass from Brees for a 21-20 lead with 3:01 left.

Forbath's 53-yard field goal, his third make of the evening against his former team, gave the Vikings their lead back with 1:29 left. That was more than enough time for Brees, the sure-bet Hall of Famer with a Super Bowl ring and all kinds of records.

But after Brees got Lutz in position, there were just enough seconds remaining for Keenum -- the undrafted and undersized all-time leading passer in NCAA history at Houston whose first career playoff start ended in spectacular fashion. He finished with 318 yards, going 25 for 40, with Diggs catching 137 yards on six catches.

"This will take a while to get over," said Payton, who fell to 1-5 on the road in playoff games.

Brees saw his 13th career postseason game end in a crushing final moment, his 25-for-40 performance for 294 yards tainted a bit by two interceptions before halftime. One came on a leaping grab by safety Andrew Sendejo, the other off a tip by Everson Griffen that landed in Anthony Barr's arms at the Minnesota 10-yard line midway through the third quarter.

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Injuries evident as Terps fall to Ohio State 91-69

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Injuries evident as Terps fall to Ohio State 91-69

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Keita Bates-Diop was 6 for 8 from beyond the 3-point line and totaled 26 points in leading Ohio State to a 91-69 rout of Maryland on Thursday night.

C.J. Jackson scored 14 and Jae-Sean Tate added 13 to power the surprising Buckeyes, who were coming off a huge upset of then-No. 1 Michigan State on Sunday.

Ohio State (14-4, 5-0 Big Ten) battled back from a seven-point deficit in the first half, took a 24-22 lead with a Tate dunk with 7:25 left in the frame and cruised from there, leading by as many as 28 points in the second half.

Bates-Diop continued his torrid streak after putting up 27 points against Iowa on Jan. 4, and a 32-point performance against Michigan State that earned him Big Ten Player of the Week honors.

Ohio State has won four straight and nine of the last 10.

Anthony Cekovsky at 7-foot-1 used took his height advantage inside to lead the Terrapins with 18 points.

Maryland has lost its two lead power forwards and a key reserve -- accounting for about 19 points per game -- to season-ending injuries in the past two weeks.

The Buckeyes led 44-32 at the half on the strength of a 22-2 run that included a trio of 3-pointers from Andrew Dakich and a pair from Bates-Diop.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: Had won eight of the last nine entering the game but caught Ohio State on a hot streak. The Terps really missed their three forwards who are out with injuries.

Ohio State: Bates-Diop is having a breakout season and getting lots of help from talented players around him.

UP NEXT

Maryland: At Michigan on Monday night.

Ohio State: At Rutgers on Sunday night.