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Mitchell Northam | NCAA.com | February 21, 2019

Women's basketball: No. 8 Maryland avoids Minnesota upset behind Charles' late-game heroics

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An upset defeat was staring down Maryland’s women’s basketball team Thursday night, as they trailed unranked Minnesota by nine points heading into the fourth quarter.

But a steal and lay-up from Kaila Charles in the final seconds capped off a fourth quarter where the Terps outscored the Gophers 23-10. The No. 8 Terps dug themselves out of a hole  and bounced back for a 71-69 victory at home in College Park.

It’s an important triumph for Maryland (24-3; 13-3 Big Ten), which was coming off a loss to No. 14 Iowa on Sunday. With the win, Brenda Frese’s Terps are in the driver’s seat to take the Big Ten regular season title with just two conference games remaining.

This marked the first coaching match-up between Frese and Lindsey Whalen. Back in 2002, Frese was on the sideline for the Gophers while Whalen was playing her way to the Big Ten’s Player of the Year award.

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Charles unstoppable

Minnesota (19-8; 8-8 Big Ten) was able to frustrate much of Maryland’s offensive weapons as the Terps shot just 41.8 percent from the floor. But no Gopher was any match for Charles.

The 6-foot-1 junior from Glenn Dale, Maryland poured in 31 points, eight rebounds, an assist, two steals and three blocks. She was simply anywhere and everywhere in the Xfinity Center on Thursday, and no Gopher could keep track of her. Her scoring total was a season-high.

Not only did Charles stuff the stat sheet, but she was clutch too. She scored six of the Terps’ final nine points in the last 50 seconds of the game, helping them complete the comeback.

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Terps come alive late

The Gophers led in this game by as much as 16 points. Whalen’s team was riding a six game winning streak and a seventh straight victory seemed likely at several points of this contest.

Down nine points entering the final period though, the Terps came alive on both ends of the floor. Maryland made two three-pointers while Minnesota made none, Maryland made three free throws while Minnesota made none, and Maryland also grabbed four offensive rebounds.

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The Terps scored 10 points off turnovers in the fourth quarter while the Gophers scored none. Minnesota coughed up possession seven times in the final period, while Maryland never lost its handle.

Minnesota may have dominated over the first three quarters, but Maryland made plays when the game was on the line.

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Maryland bench gives a boost

While Minnesota relied heavily on its starters in this game, Maryland was able to turn to its bench. The Gophers used just six players over the entire contest.

The Terps reserves outscored the Gophers 12-2, out-rebounded them 3-2 and out-assisted them 7-0.

Sophomore Channise Lewis made the biggest impact off the bench for Maryland, tallying nine points, six assists, a steal and a rebound.

Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.

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