By Emily Kennedy | @Emily_AKennedy
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS — There is a reason that the Maryland Terrapins became the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament and lifted a trophy signifying the regular-season championship. Maryland’s depth, a signature throughout what could be a second consecutive Big Ten championship season, became a decisive factor in the 83-62 semifinal victory over Northwestern, the third straight over the Wildcats this season.
Led by seniors Tierney Pfirman, who scored 17 points with seven rebounds, and Brene Moseley, who scored 15 points with five assists, the Maryland bench produced 33 of the team’s 83 points. Moseley became the 32nd player in Maryland history to reach 1,000 points.
The non-starters for the fifth-ranked Terrapins (29-3) have outscored the opposition bench 1,025-395 this season.
Against the 12th-seeded Wildcats, who reached the semifinal for the second consecutive season, Maryland made 63 percent of its shots in the third and fourth quarters. Northwestern (18-16) was playing its fourth game in as many days. Northwestern’s issues were compounded by the loss of senior guard Maggie Lyon, its second-leading scorer with a 16.5-point per game average, with what was described as a lower-body injury. Lyon scored 25 points against Maryland during the 79-70 Terrapin victory on Feb. 14.
“When you have a shooter like that, obviously we played a lot of zone today,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said of Lyon. “So she would have been able to assist with them, obviously, the depth factor when you’re talking about four games. So I’m sure they would love to have been able to have her.”
Junior center Brionna Jones scored 17 points for the Terrapins on 7-of-8 shooting, and junior guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 15 with seven rebounds and five assists. Maryland led by as many as 23 points with six minutes to play.
But it was the bench that kept control of the game. “That’s one of our contributions throughout the whole season … our depth and people coming off the bench,” said Pfirman, who made 8 of 14 shots. “And this is our second game in this tournament and this is their fourth and just being able to come and give our starters fresh legs, I think it was a huge factor.”
Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said Pfirman’s baskets helped prevent his team from coming back. “They came when we were down eight or ten,” he said. “I look, and she made shots when there were nails in our coffin, too. We were playing really hard trying to come back. So that’s what I thought she did really well today.”
Northwestern junior forward Nia Coffey led the Wildcats with 31 points to set a tournament record of 100 points, surpassing the 21-year-old record of 96 set by Peggy Evans of Ohio State.
“Nia put her team on her back, and I thought did a tremendous job,” Frese said.