No. 4 Maryland beats Purdue for 3rd straight Big Ten title
(AP Photo/R Brent Smith)
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Maryland's Brionna Jones added another net necklace to her collection Sunday night.
It's become the trendy thing at the Big Ten Tournament.
Jones had 27 points and 12 rebounds and led the fourth-ranked Terrapins to their third straight championship with a 74-64 victory over Purdue.
"They're all indescribable," coach Brenda Frese said 45 minutes after claiming the Big Ten's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. "What it means is we continue to take championships back home. I know they make it look easy, but it's not."
The Terrapins (30-2) are 9-0 in tourney play since moving to the Big Ten. They also became the third team in league history to complete a three-peat.
Jones, who had a major role in all three title runs, certainly did her thing.
The game's Most Outstanding Player went 11 of 13 from the field, made all five of her free throws and had five blocks as Maryland outscored Purdue 44-26 in the paint. Destiny Slocum had 14 points and seven assists for Maryland, which has won 18 of 19 since losing to No. 1 UConn.
"She's big and physical and hard to guard," Boilermakers forward Bridget Perry said, referring to Jones. "At times we did a decent job on her. At others, we didn't."
And when they didn't, Jones and her teammates took full advantage.
Ashley Morisette scored 18 points and had six assists for the sixth-seeded Boilermakers (22-12). Andreona Keys finished with 15 points.
They trailed 39-35 at halftime and 42-38 early in the third quarter, but Jones' layup with 8:14 jump-started the decisive 9-0 spurt that gave Maryland a 51-38 lead. Purdue couldn't get closer than 11 the rest of the night.
"She (Jones) is the best post player in the country and she plays like it day in and day out," said Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, last year's MOP who had the other net around her neck. "She plays like a beast."
Purdue: A loss wasn't going to hurt the Boilermakers' NCAA Tournament draw. An injury could have. Morisette gave everyone a scare when she appeared to get hit with a knee as she drove to the basket and stayed seated on the ground. She returned a few minutes later. But she continued to wince and took some extra moments to gather herself the rest of the night. Morisette said after the game it was just bumps and bruises and expects to be healthy for the postseason.
Maryland: The Terrapins must wait to see if their resume is good enough for a No. 1 seed. One thing that already is clear: They are literally unbeatable in conference play when they don't play Ohio State. Against the Buckeyes, they are 2-3. Against everyone else in the Big Ten, the Terrapins are 56-0.
The game changed completely after Perry was called for a charge with 8:25 left in the third quarter. As she sat on the ground and signaled the basket she just made was good, the refs called it a charge and took away the basket.
Jones scored on the ensuing possession and the Boilermakers found themselves trailing by 13 before calling timeout.
The biggest difference in the game might have been fatigue.
Purdue was playing for the fourth time in four days and it showed up on offense and defense.
Maryland shot 51.8 percent from the field against one of the Big Ten's better defensive teams. Purdue, meanwhile, shot just 38.3 percent.
"They made shots and we didn't," Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. "They scored in the paint and they do that against everyone in the country. Maryland's a great team and we're not far behind."
Purdue: Will wait for the NCAA Tournament pairings to be released March 13.
Maryland: Also will wait for the NCAA Tournament pairings.
Updated March 5, 2017