Big Ten notes: Peleg Pelc to transfer, Iowa vs. MD, NW vs. Michigan

COLLEGE PARK, MD - DECEMBER 31: Noga Peleg Pelc #2 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights celebrates with Tekia Mack #31 after a victory against the Maryland Terrapins at Xfinity Center on December 31, 2018 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, MD - DECEMBER 31: Noga Peleg Pelc #2 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights celebrates with Tekia Mack #31 after a victory against the Maryland Terrapins at Xfinity Center on December 31, 2018 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images) /

Noga Peleg Pelc announces her departure from Rutgers.

The sophomore will part ways with the Rutgers women’s basketball program, the school announced Friday. Peleg Pelc will leave due to “personal reasons” and immediately enter the NCAA transfer portal.

The guard played in 32 games as a freshman, starting 12. She averaged 16.4 minutes and 5.2 points per game while shooting 38% from three-point range, and scored a career-high 19 points in a home win over Brown on Jan. 4, 2019. Peleg Pelc has seen her playing time and production decrease as a sophomore, having played in just eight games and scored 20 total points this season.

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“The Rutgers women’s basketball family thanks Noga for her contributions to the Scarlet Knights,” said Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer in a release. “We are proud that Noga became a fan-favorite and is loved by so many. We wish her the absolute best in everything the future holds for her.”

Peleg Pelc played her last game for the Scarlet Knights on Jan. 16 against Penn State, scoring a season-high eight points.

Iowa vs. Maryland: Terps continue to roll

In a battle for sole possession of first place in the Big Ten standings, the Maryland Terrapins dismantled the Iowa Hawkeyes, 93-59, on Thursday evening in College Park. The home team was dominant from opening tip, racing out to a 25-14 first quarter and eventual 48-23 halftime advantage. Four Terps scored 16 or more points, highlighted by senior Kaila Charles’ 21 point, 9 rebound performance.

Maryland has now won 10 straight in conference play and more closely resembles the national contender that many picked them to be during the preseason. They’ve won their last four games by a total of 114 points — a 28.5 point margin of victory per game.

With the win on Thursday, the Terps are alone at the top of the Big Ten standings at 12-2, while the Hawkeyes fell to third place at 11-3 with Northwestern’s road win in Michigan. Iowa, meanwhile, has gone just 2-2 in its last four games with the two defeats coming by a combined 49 points. They’ll look to rebound on Sunday afternoon at home against Wisconsin.

“Sometimes after a night like that, you just have to move on,” said Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder on Saturday, “They already feel down enough about it, so it’s a message of ‘Come on, let’s bounce back.’”

A positive for the Hawkeyes this season — one that was thought to be characterized by rebuilding after the loss of Megan Gusfatson — has been the emergence of sophomore Monika Czinano. The Minnesota native leads the nation in field goal percentage at 70% and ranks second on her team in scoring at 14.7 points per game. She’s converted on 17 of her last 18 shot attempts spanning Iowa’s last two games against Purdue and Maryland.

Northwestern wins in Michigan to complete season sweep of Wolverines

In a game in which Northwestern’s Lindsey Pulliam – the second leading scorer in the Big Ten – shot just 1-for-10 from the field and scored just four points, the Wildcats took advantage of Wolverine injuries and claimed a key road win at Michigan, 66-60, on Thursday night.

Pulliam consistently looked off, as though she was seeking contact on most of her jump shots but didn’t receive the calls. Michigan’s Akienreh Johnson did a solid job of limiting Pulliam’s space and scoring, though Wildcats such as Abi Scheid and Sydney Wood stepped up to compensate. Additionally, it was sophomore Veronica Burton – coming off a 23 point, 11 rebound game against Michigan State on Monday – that buried a three-pointer from the wing with the game tied at 60 and 2:35 remaining on the clock.

“We just made a couple plays in the fourth quarter, made a couple shots and had a little run that gave us a lead,” said Northwestern head coach Joe McKeown, who returned to the sidelines after missing the previous game with an illness. “Tough game, hard-nosed game, kind of what we expected… we played through adversity when we had to.”

It was the second meeting between the two teams in 15 days, as the Wildcats had previously defeated the Wolverines, 81-73, in Evanston.

Michigan lost Naz Hillmon to what seemed to be a right shoulder injury approximately two minutes into the game. Though Hillmon returned in the second quarter and played the first six minutes of the third, she never reentered in the fourth.

In addition to Hillmon, the Wolverines saw Izabel Varejao, Hailey Brown and Akienreh Johnson all exhibit signs of discomfort at different points of the contest. Michigan was already playing without Kayla Robbins, who tore her ACL in January, and Danielle Rauch, who sustained a hand injury a couple weeks back and has missed the past three games.

Despite the injuries, the Wolverines remained competitive with the second-best team in the Big Ten and, for much of the game, seemed determined to prevail as a tribute to the ailing players relegated to the sidelines.

“I thought tonight we had tremendous leadership and fight from Akienreh Johnson and Hailey Brown,” said Michigan Coach Kim Barnes Arico. “I just think it’s the culture that’s been created in our program, and our kids are really doing a great job of staying positive and trying to rally around the injured kids.”

Michigan still remains in the thick of the conference standings, tied for sixth with a 7-6 record in Big Ten play and 16-8 mark overall.

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