From one of her worst games of the season to her best.
Coming off a game where she only scored two points on 1-of-13 from the field vs. Iowa, Maryland junior guard Kaila Charles needed to step up her game if the Terrapins had any chance of defeating the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers on Feb. 21.
Lindsay Whalen’s team was coming in hot, having won its last six games before heading to College Park to face off against Maryland.
Thanks to the best game of Charles’ season, the Terrapins sent the Gophers back to the winter cold with a snapped win streak and less hope of reaching the NCAA Tournament in March.
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Maryland’s narrow 71-69 win vs. Minnesota didn’t look like it was going to come into fruition after the first three quarters. After 30 minutes of play, the Gophers led by 11 and looked poised to add another signature win to their roller coaster of a resume. Instead, Maryland scored 23 points in the fourth while holding Minnesota to just ten points.
Charles led the Terrapins with 29 points — a season-high — in the win, in 31 minutes. She shot 13-for-23 from the field (both season highs) and added eight rebounds, three blocks, two steals, and an assist. It was just the second time in February that Charles had eclipsed 20 points, also doing so on Feb. 14 vs. Nebraska.
This season, Charles has started every game this season for Maryland (and all 96 games of her collegiate career) and is averaging 16.2 points per game while adding 6.1 rebounds per game as well. She can dribble, she can shoot, and she can pass. Charles success in the 2018-19 season has helped Maryland into the top-10 where the team is in the same category as many of the nation’s best teams just a couple games before the Big Ten Tournament.
With a 24-3 record and 13-3 in conference, the Terrapins control their own destiny in the Big Ten standings. The last two games are at Purdue (17-12) and home vs. Illinois (10-18), both games that Charles and the Terrapins are more than capable of winning. The women in red could very well hold the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament next week when the standings come out. Depending on how Maryland does in the conference tournament, they could very well be a top-3 seed when the brackets are released.
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