akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief


INDIANAPOLIS — The Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament has never encountered a championship game that did not feature the Maryland Terrapins ever since their arrival in the league in 2014-15. Brenda Frese’s high-flying charges plan on keeping it that way as they hope to defend their championship from last season.

Guard Ashley Owusu once again stuffed the statsheet with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as the Terps opened defense of their conference championship with a gritty 83-73 victory over No. 8 seed Nebraska at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to start the quarterfinal round on Thursday. Diamond Miller added Chloe Bibby each scored 18 points while Mimi Collins chipped in with 17 for Maryland.

The regular season champions have won four of the six Big Ten Tournament Finals they have played in, but with less five minutes to play, Maryland was staring a one-and-done exit in the face when the game was tied at 68. Owusu hit a jumper to give the lead back, the start of a 7-0 game-deciding run for the Terrapins in which all of the points were scored by Owusu. Owusu scored 13 of her 22 points in the second half to help the Terps pull away from a game Cornhuskers squad.

“Welcome to March,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said, “This game looked and felt a lot different. All the credit goes to Nebraska. I thought they came in with a ton of energy and emotion, having gotten their legs under them yesterday. I thought they played really lost and with nothing to lose.

“Mimi and Chloe set the tone really early for us. Diamond and Ashley made a lot of big plays in the second half and that’s what you’ve got to be able to have from a great team.”

Maryland goes on to face No. 5 Northwestern, who defeated fourth-seeded Michigan in the second afternoon quarterfinal game.

To start the evening session, No. 7 Michigan State came back from a sizable deficit for the second consecutive game, overturning a halftime deficit to stun the second-seeded Indiana Hoosiers 67-61 to advance to the semifinals. This will be the first semifinal appearance for the Spartans since 2017, when they lost to Maryland 100-89 at that stage of the tournament.

All Big Ten First-Team selection Nia Clouden rebounded from a poor first half to score 27 of her 30 points in the final 20 minutes to carry the Spartans, who were down as many as 11 points in the first half before entering the break behind 34-26.

Michigan State, and specifically Clouden, turned it on in the third quarter, outscoring the Hoosiers 21-11 with 11 of its 21 points in the quarter coming off seven Indiana turnovers. Clouden scored 15 of the 21 points in the quarter.

Grace Berger led the Hoosiers with 19 points while Mackenzie Holmes chipped in with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The Spartans will take on No. 6 Iowa, who defeated third-seeded Rutgers in the nightcap.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday evening’s games, with the photos taken by Detroit-area photographer Aaron J. Thornton. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are currently 50 pictures in total.

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Tags : Big Ten ConferenceBig Ten TournamentIndiana HoosiersMaryland TerrapinsMichigan State SpartansNebraska Cornhuskers

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