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No. 6 Maryland women advance to Big Ten tournament final with 66-51 win over No. 20 Indiana

No. 6 Maryland women advance to Big Ten tournament final with 66-51 win over No. 20 Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the best teams in women’s college basketball went bananas.

Following sixth-ranked Maryland’s 66-51 win over No. 20 Indiana on Saturday night to advance to the Big Ten tournament championship game, the Terrapins’ coaches and players celebrated by holding bananas in the air and participating in a singsong chant.

“Peel to the left, peel to the right, peel down the middle, and we all take a bite!”

“Peel” is the name for one of Maryland’s defensive coverages. Coach Brenda Freese and her staff emphasized it in a pregame film session, and the Terrapins executed to near-perfection in a stifling defensive performance that limited Indiana to 33% shooting.

“I think what makes this team so special is how they play for one another,” Freese said.

Freshman Diamond Miller scored 15 points and classmate Ashley Owusu added 14 with five rebounds for the Terrapins, who improved to 27-4. They have won 16 in a row, the last 11 coming by double figures.

“They’re long,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “They’re athletic. We just couldn’t score enough.”

The top seed broke open a tightly contested semifinal affair with a 17-0 run in the third quarter. While pushing their lead from 28-26 to 45-26, the Terps held Indiana (24-8) scoreless on 10 consecutive possessions.

Indiana leading scorer Ali Patberg finished with 16 points, matching her average, but endured a 6-of-21 shooting night.

“We knew going into this game Patberg was really hot,” Freese said. “We wanted to make her have to work for everything. I thought our zone kind of changed the game. I thought it gave them more defenders to have to look at, and I thought that was probably the difference.”

Offense proved particularly difficult to come by in a first half that ended with Maryland ahead 28-24.

Indiana tied the score at 21 on a Patberg 3 early in the second quarter, but Maryland responded with a 7-0 run consisting of shots in the lane by Miller and Owusu and a three-point play by Shakira Austin off of a fast-break opportunity. The Hoosiers went scoreless on seven straight trips during that sequence.

“They're going to go far in the NCAA Tournament,” said Kaila Charles, who had 11 points and eight rebounds for Maryland. “They’re a great team. (We were) just making sure to lock in on defense.”

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: The Hoosiers are 0-10 all time against Maryland and must figure out a way to solve the Terps in order to further ascend the conference hierarchy.

Maryland: The Terrapins showed once more how their height and length bother opposing offenses. Indiana entered shooting 47% from the field this season but never looked comfortable in a half-court setting against Maryland.

STAT PACK

Indiana: Grace Berger finished with 10 points, seven assists and six boards. … The Hoosiers’ largest lead was at 9-7 on a first-quarter 3-pointer by Patberg. … Trailed 16-13 entering the second quarter and 50-33 entering the fourth.

Maryland: Held Indiana’s Jaelynn Penn and Brenna Wise, who entered averaging 19 points combined, to nine between them. … Improved to 15-2 all time at the Big Ten tournament. … Seeking to win the tourney for a fourth time.

UP NEXT

Indiana: Will wait to find out their NCAA Tournament draw when the bracket is revealed March 16.

Maryland: Advance to Sunday’s Big Ten championship game to face the winner of Saturday night’s Michigan-Ohio State contest.

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Sean Payton looks back on his short stint as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland

Sean Payton looks back on his short stint as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland

Before he was a Super Bowl coach, before he was even an NFL coach, Saints coach Sean Payton was a Maryland Terrapin coach.

For a few months in the offseason at least. 

Maryland coach Mike Locksley hosted Payton on "Late Night With Locks" and remembered that when starting in College Park for the first time, he was told his job depended on what Payton picked - running backs or receivers. Payton, then-Terps head coach Ron Vanderlinden knew at the time, was an up-and-coming star in the coaching ranks who had coached Marshall Faulk at San Diego State and had spent the year before as the quarterbacks coach at Illinois. (Click here to see the press release from when he was hired). 

SPORTS UNCOVERED: CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE STORY OF JORDAN'S TWO-WORD FAX THAT CHANGED THE NBA

"When I got hired at Maryland in '97," Locksley remembered, "I was told it would be either running backs or receivers. It all depends what Sean Payton wants to do. Sean Payton was a coach here from December through Signing Day of '97 and then went out to the Combine and got offered a quality control job with the Eagles and as your moving truck was coming to College Park to drop off a bunch of other stuff ... the moving truck just kept going."

Payton remembered the tumultuous time for the Terps as well. He came to College Park with former Illinois coach Lou Tepper, who was hired as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. "Coach Vanderlinden's trying to put his staff together, it's December, we're recruiting," he said. "And you've got to pick up your stuff on the fly, ready ready. And so you're hustling and one month Coach Tep decides he wanted to wait. And look, that was a big loss for (Vanderlinden) because Tep was like a father to him ... but Lou felt more comfortable going back. So that was change number one."

Three weeks later, another assistant, Terry Malone left for another job to be closer to his father, who was sick at the time.

"So (Vanderlinden) was good and came into the staff meeting and said 'anybody else who wants to get out of here now?'" Payton remembered. "And we're all looking around saying 'this isn't going to affect us.' And three days later I'm like man I'm that person. I was third person out of the bank. You don't want to be the third person out of the bank."

Payton left the Terps for a quality control job with the Eagles, not even coaching a game for the Terps. But he did leave a bit of a legacy, according to Locksley.

In his short time with the Terps, Locksley said, Payton played a role in getting Maryland great Lamont Jordan to play at College Park. 

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Maryland football hoping for good news with Flowers DT Tommy Akingbesote's announcement

Maryland football hoping for good news with Flowers DT Tommy Akingbesote's announcement

Maryland's future defense is in the running for a huge boost on Wednesday.

Flowers High School defensive tackle Tommy Akingbesote posted on Twitter on Tuesday that he will be announcing his commitment at 6 P.M. on Wednesday. According to 247sports.com, the race is between the Terps and Virginia Tech - though a myriad of other schools are also listed as possibilities.

Terps coach Mike Locksley has already had two 4-star defensive linemen commit: Demeioun Robinson from Quince Orchard is ranked third in the state and 58th in the country overall. And another Flowers player, Marcus Bradley, who is ranked 9th in the state and No. 186 in the country is heading to College Park.

 Akingbesote is ranked 16th in the state according to 247Sports.com's rankings.

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