MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Maryland had worked its way into the nation’s No. 10 ranking by beating teams by an average of 20.3 points heading into Sunday. Minnesota is showing with its wins over ranked teams that it might be another Big Ten powerhouse.
Freshman Destiny Pitts scored 20 points, hitting 6 of 11 from 3-point territory, and sophomore Gadiva Hubbard had 22 points as Minnesota went deep to upset Maryland 93-74 on Sunday.
Kenisha Bell had 21 points as the Gophers (21-6, 10-4 Big Ten) shot 14 of 24 on 3s and earned their second straight home victory against a Top 25 opponent. Minnesota, which has won seven of its last eight, topped No. 23 Michigan 93-87 on Wednesday.
“We’re playing versus top teams, but we kind of realize how good we are too, playing versus good teams,” said Pitts, who added a team-high nine rebounds. “We just battled with them.”
Kaila Charles had 16 points, 14 rebounds and six assists for Maryland, which has lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. The Terrapins (22-5, 11-3) had 14 turnovers and shot 41.1 percent from the field.
“We knew they were going to hit the 3, but they had a spectacular shooting night,” Charles said. “It’s a little frustrating that we’d score and they’d score a 3, and it was kind of hard to come back. We just have to learn from it and move on.”
Stephanie Jones added 13 points for Maryland, which had never lost to the Gophers in five games since moving to the Big Ten in 2014-15 with former Minnesota coach Brenda Frese. Frese coached the Gophers for one season before joining the Terrapins in 2002.
The loss was just Maryland’s sixth against Big Ten teams since joining the conference.
“Certainly, a big win for our program as a whole,” Minnesota coach Marlene Stollings said. “We’re really on a high right now. We’re playing extremely well. We’re peaking at exactly the right time.”
Featuring two of the three-highest scoring teams in the Big Ten, the game played to a fast pace early with both teams hitting from 3-point territory. Slowly, the Terrapins’ shots started to miss the mark while the Gophers continued to connect.
Pitts and Hubbard kept pouring it on from outside as Minnesota led by as many as 27. Carlie Wagner added 17 for the Gophers.
“I feel like it’s hard to match up with our whole team,” Pitts said. “We have four players in double figures. If you try to focus on one, somebody else is going to be open. It’s kind of like, you’ve got to pick your poison on who you guard. It’s always nice to know somebody’s going to be open.”
Charles, who entered averaging 17.8 points per game, was held scoreless until 5:46 left in the first half.
Maryland: Back-to-back losses will drop the Terrapins down the rankings but shouldn’t hurt too much in the conference standings. Maryland is tied with Ohio State atop the conference after the Buckeyes beat Purdue on Sunday. The Terrapins still appear to be an NCAA Tournament lock, but they have to be concerned with the way they played in two losses to unranked teams.
Minnesota: The Gophers keep building their resume for the NCAA Tournament and appear ready to make some noise in the upcoming conference tournament. They’ve been on the cusp of the Top 25 twice this season after receiving votes in the poll and might finally break through.
HOME SWEET HOME
Minnesota is 13-1 this season at home, including three wins against teams in the Top 25 at the time of the game. The Gophers have won six in a row at home. They beat then-No. 20 Iowa 77-72 on Jan. 21.
“I think like you’ve been able to see in the conference race, it’s really, really tough to win on the road, and kind of the mentality you have to be able to go in with,” Frese said. “I thought Minnesota was sensational in every effort tonight.”
Maryland’s final road game of the season is Thursday at No. 23 Michigan.
Minnesota hosts Indiana on Tuesday for its final home game.
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