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


INDIANAPOLIS — For those who watched the game on Feb. 23, the lone matchup in the regular season between Maryland and Iowa left every spectator wanting much more than the 40 minutes allocated to it, given the free-flowing nature to the contest that featured over 200 points combined. Fortunately, tomorrow will provide many what they had wished for after that February afternoon, and with a Big Ten championship on the line to boot.

The top-seeded Terrapins and the No. 6 Hawkeyes took care of business during the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Friday, matching up the two highest-scoring teams in the country in Saturday’s final. For Maryland, six different players scored in double figures on its way to a comfortable 85-52 win over No. 5 seed Northwestern in the first semifinal. Alaysia Styles led all Terps scores with 15 points off the bench, while freshman Angel Reese came off the bench to stuff the stat sheet with 10 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.

Two weeks ago, the Wildcats held Maryland, who leads the country in scoring at 91 points per game, to a season-low 62 in a close loss to the Terrapins. In this game, however, the Terps got out to a hot start and kept the foot on the pedal, hitting nine of their 15 shots from the field in the first quarter before a near-perfect second quarter in which it made nine of 11 shots. At halftime, the Terrapins held a 49-24 lead and were well on their way to making it to their seventh Big Ten Tournament final in seven years as a member of the conference.

“Really proud of this team,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “What a fun way to play. We knew Northwestern was going to come in after yesterday’s game, very inspired and motivated. I thought our group was just as motivated. We knew the last time we played Northwestern it probably wasn’t our best game, so you saw a team that punched first and they never looked back.

In the second semifinal, Iowa forward Monika Czinano continued her dominance inside, leading her team with 27 points in helping Iowa to poll away late in a 87-72 win over No. & Michigan State. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Caitlin Clark scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists while McKenna Warnock also registered a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Over the course of her three games in Indianapolis, Czinano has scored a combined 85 points, including a career-high 38 points in the second-round victory over Purdue. Czinano and Clark scored 14 of the Hawkeyes’ 24 points in the third quarter, turning a one-point halftime deficit into a seven-point lead at 64-57 at the end of the third. Czinano scored eight points in the fourth as Iowa shot 47 percent from the field in the game’s final 20 minutes while making 13-of-14 on free throws in the second half.

The matchup between the Hawkeyes and Terrapins last month was one of the great all-time offensive displays, as the teams combined for 32 three-pointers in Maryland’s 111-93 victory. Both Clark and Maryland’s Katie Benzan nailed nine three-pointers, and the Hawkeyes lost despite shooting 55 percent from the field and nailing 15 threes.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday afternoon’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 27 pictures in total.

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Tags : Big Ten ConferenceBig Ten TournamentIowa HawkeyesMaryland TerrapinsMichigan State SpartansNorthwestern Wildcatswomen's college basketball

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