INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kaila Charles scored 16 of her 21 points in the second half and No. 8 Maryland used a stifling defense Friday to pull away from Michigan State 71-55 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.
The Terrapins (27-3) head into Saturday’s semifinal game with 12 wins in their last 13 games and chasing their fourth league tourney crown in five years. They’ve already won the Big Ten’s regular-season title.
Jenna Allen had 19 points and seven rebound to lead Michigan State, which made only seven baskets in the second half. The Spartans (20-11) have lost two of their last three as they wait to find out their postseason plans.
Stephanie Jones had 14 points and 11 rebounds, doing most of her damage in the first half for Maryland.
But defense was the difference in this game.
Maryland held Michigan State to 6-of-26 shooting to start the game and jumped to a 34-19 lead late in the first half.
Then, after the Spartans closed the half on a 12-1 run and opened the second half with a layup to get within 35-33, the Terrapins’ defense was virtually impenetrable — allowing just over the next 11½ minutes.
And with Charles taking charge in the post, Maryland used an 11-0 run to take a 46-33 lead midway through the third before closing the quarter on a 10-4 run that made it 60-41.
Michigan State never got closer than 19 until the final minutes.
Michigan State: The Spartans’ shooters struggled mightily Friday. But for one short stretch, late in the first half, Michigan State reminded everyone just how well it’s capable of playing. With wins over Oregon, Maryland, Big Ten runner-up Iowa and Minnesota plus a narrow loss to North Carolina State and two other losses against ranked opponents on the resume, the Spartans should be a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland: It took a half for the Terrapins to really find their groove but Once they did, Michigan State never had a chance. It could spell trouble for the rest of the conference contenders this weekend. Maryland improved to 9-1 all-time in Indy, 12-1 all-time in Big Ten tourney play and made a strong statement by avenging one of its three losses this season.
Michigan State: Nia Clouden and Shay Colley each scored 12 points. … After shooting 29.4 percent in the first half, the Spartans were a dismal 7 of 29 in the second half and shot a season-low 29 percent from the field. They were 4 of 18 on 3-pointers. … Michigan State was outrebounded 45-32.
Maryland: Charles also had 10 rebounds. … Blair Watson was the only other player to reach double figures. She finished with 11 and was 3 of 4 on 3s. … The Terrapins shot a blistering 81.8 percent in the third quarter, making 9 of 11 shots. … The Terrapins pulled away despite committing 20 turnovers.
Michigan State: Awaits its postseason fate.
Maryland: Faces either Wisconsin or Michigan on Saturday.