Sports Journalism Blog

By Alaa Abdeldaiem | @Abdeldaiem_Alaa

Sports Capital Journalism Program

INDIANAPOLIS — Maryland’s Brionna Jones and Satori Walker-Kimbrough, consensus first-team All-Big Ten players, are what Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder called two of the best players in the nation.

Stop them from the outside, and they’ll find a way to succeed from within. Trap them inside, and they’ll found a way out. Bluder hoped her Hawkeyes could eliminate their effectiveness. 

They couldn’t, falling 75-55 to top-seeded Maryland and ending Iowa’s Big Ten Tournament run. 

The top-seeded, fifth-ranked Terrapins (28-3) advanced to Saturday’s semifinals against No. 12 Northwestern, which upset Indiana, 79-73.

For a single quarter during Friday’s match-up, the Hawkeyes looked like they could pull off the upset. Iowa closed the first quarter with an 18-6 run, making 12 of 16 shots and taking a 28-18 lead.

Junior guard Ally Disterhoft scored the game’s opening five points and finished the half with 10, moving into third on the Iowa all-time list for junior scoring with 546 points. She would finish the game with 16.

“They came out red hot,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “I mean, they really kind of took off after their last game against Michigan. It was a tremendous first quarter by them.”

But as soon as Iowa’s offense gained steam, Walker-Kimbrough took over, scoring nine points during a 17-2 Terrapin run to start the second quarter and 13 points overall in the first half.

Maryland would go on to outscore Iowa 21-4 in the final minutes of the second quarter, holding the Hawkeyes to just 1-of-10 shooting and taking a 39-32 advantage heading into the locker room.

Iowa (19-13) attempted to regain momentum by closing within four early in the third quarter, but Maryland answered with five straight points. The Hawkeyes couldn’t get within less than six the rest of the game.

“I was proud of the team, the way we came out,” Bluder said. “Obviously, though, it takes four quarters, and after that, we really pretty much lost it.

“Brionna and Shatori are incredible athletes. Jones does a great job of stealing and posting herself up, and any shots she misses, she just gets her own offensive rebound. (Walker-Kimbrough) is one of the best not only offensively, but she can play defense, too. That’s what All-Americans do.”

Walker-Kimbrough finished with 23 points, moving into a tie for 10th on the Terrapins’ all-time list for single-season scoring with 613 points.

Jones came out with 23 points and 15 rebounds, tallying her third-straight game scoring at least 20 points and ninth of the season.

Together, the two juniors rallied the Terrapins to 50 points in the paint.

“We were led by our two vets, that inside-outside combination that we had going all game,” Frese said. “I thought they just set the tone with their mentality, not wanting to go home, and our team was able to feed off of that, which I thought was great. We were balanced around the two of them.”

For Walker-Kimbrough, Jones and their Maryland Terrapins, the road to defending their Big Ten title goes on. 

Bluder and her Hawkeyes, meanwhile, will wait for the NCAA to decide their fate.

“I know we play in one of the toughest conferences in America, and we had a tough schedule,” Bluder said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I’m happy with the progress that we made, but after a loss, nobody’s ever happy.”