COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — Despite losing twice to Maryland this season, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer would cherish the opportunity to get another crack at the Big Ten front-runners.
Lexie Brown scored 19 points, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 17 and No. 5 Maryland remained unbeaten in the conference with its 16th consecutive victory, 80-69 over No. 18 Rutgers on Tuesday night.
Maryland (22-2, 13-0) let a 12-point lead dwindle to 52-48 before Brown connected from beyond the arc to spark an 11-2 run that made it 63-50 with nine minutes left.
Betnijah Laney scored 22 and Kahleah Copper had 19 for the Rutgers (18-6, 9-4). The Scarlet Knights had won six straight since falling at home to the Terrapins on Jan. 15.
Two losses, both by double figures, would discourage most coaches. Not Stringer, who would love to see Terps again in the Big Ten tournament.
"I'm kind of looking forward to that, and I hope that we need to do to be deserving of playing in the championship," Stringer said. "You always want to play great competition. It's my philosophy that to be the best, you have to play the best. And you have to beat the best."
The Scarlet Knights haven't yet completed the last item on the checklist, but they certainly made it interesting in the rematch of a 71-59 defeat last month.
In the end, however, Rutgers simply could not compete with Maryland's size and depth. The Terrapins had four players reach double figures in points and outscored the Scarlet Knights 36-28 in the paint despite playing most of the first half without foul-plagued center Brionna Jones.
"That was just a lot of fun," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I enjoyed seeing the work that we displayed together, the unselfish play. The poise, the toughness and the confidence that you had to have in his game was tremendous.
"Obviously, different players contributing throughout the entire game, that's what makes us so special."
Walker-Kimbrough scored 15 points before halftime, and the Terrapins erased an early deficit to go up 37-29 at the break.
Jones picked up two fouls in the opening 2 1/2 minutes and quickly took a seat on the bench. As a result, Rutgers controlled the boards in taking a 17-12 lead.
The Terrapins responded with five straight baskets to move in front for good.
It was 24-19 when Laurin Mincy launched a 30-footer as the shot clock was about to expire. Not surprisingly, the shot found the bottom of the net.
Maryland then sandwiched six free throws around a layup by Ariel Butts to extend its run to 21-4 and put Rutgers in a 33-21 hole.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights fell to 3-5 against Top 25 teams, including 0-2 vs. Maryland. ... Laney finished with six rebounds, ending her run of four straight double-doubles. Stringer said of the 6-foot forward: "I have never seen a player make such a transformation from her freshman year to her senior year, and be as dominant a player." ... Rutgers slipped to 10-2 on the road this season. The other loss was at Ohio State.
Maryland: The Terrapins improved to 186-32 at home in 13 seasons under Frese. ... Maryland had seven steals, just under its average of 9.4 per game.
Rutgers: Copper has found her shooting eye of late, scoring 21 against Purdue on Jan. 29 and a season-high 25 against Penn State last Sunday before coming up large against the Terps. The 6-1 forward went 8 for 16 from the floor, made all three of her foul shots and added a team-high eight rebounds.
Maryland: Brown made all three of her shots beyond the arc to help Maryland pull away. "Big Shot Brown comes and nails the 3s that I thought really put the exclamation point on the game," Frese said.
Rutgers hosts Purdue at noon on Saturday.
Maryland travels to Michigan State on Monday, Feb. 16.