BTN.com staff, March 8, 2015
(AP) Lexie Brown scored 19 points, and No. 4 Maryland beat Ohio State 77-74 Sunday night to capture the Big Ten tournament title and cap a perfect run through the conference.
The Terrapins (30-2) will enter the NCAA Tournament with 24 straight wins and their eyes locked on another big run after reaching the Final Four last season.
They made a seamless transition to the Big Ten after 37 years in the ACC, going 18-0 in conference play. No other Maryland basketball team – men's or women's – had gone unbeaten in league competition.
But they sure got all they could handle in this one, hanging on after Ohio State (23-10) cut a 15-point lead to one.
Maryland was leading by four when Cait Craft raced back on defense to strip Maryland's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough as she went for a layup following a turnover by Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell. Craft then nailed a 3 with a minute left to make it 75-74, but the Terrapins hung on.
Mitchell, who had 31 points, got called for traveling with 7 seconds left, and Brown hit two free throws to make it a three-point game. Mitchell caught the inbounds and raced up the right side, but her heave from just inside the half-court line hit the back of the rim, preserving the win for Maryland.
Brown, a candidate for Naismith Women's College Player of the Year, had six assists. Walker-Kimbrough added 13 points and six rebounds. Laurin Mincy scored 12, and Malina Howard chipped in with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite Mitchell's big scoring game, Ohio State came up short going for its fifth Big Ten tournament title. Alexa Hart finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, but the Buckeyes' six-game win streak came to an end.
A 17-3 run by Maryland turned a one-point lead late in the first half into a 15-point advantage in the second, with Walker-Kimbrough nailing a 3 to make it 50-35. But with the score 52-37, Ohio State jumped right back into it.
The Buckeyes went on a 17-4 run, cutting it to 56-54 on Mitchell's 3 midway through the half.
Hart's layup pulled Ohio State within one – 61-60 – with 6:44 remaining, and it remained tight until the rest of the way.