COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — With leading scorer Rachel Theriot out with an ankle injury, Nebraska coach Connie Yori knew her team would struggle offensively and be forced to lean on its defense against bigger, faster Maryland.
While the formula worked in spurts, the Cornhuskers (17-6 overall, 7-5 Big Ten) simply could not keep pace with the Terrapins, who eventually pulled away in the second half. Lexie Brown scored 14 points to help No. 5 Maryland extend its winning streak to 15 games with a 59-47 victory over No. 19 Nebraska on Sunday.
Theriot, who missed her second straight game, was a First-team All-Big Ten pick last season, and is averaging 16.5 points per game. She is listed as day-to-day with the injury.
"We're missing one of the best guards in the league," Yori said. "Rachel was a preseason top-five player in the league for a reason. She not only can score the ball, she makes it easier for other people to get shots. We're missing her. There's no doubt. That hurts us offensively."
Tear'a Laudermill scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half for Nebraska.
Brionna Jones had 12 points and 9 rebounds for the Terrapins, who are riding their longest winning streak since going 16-0 to start the 2011 season. Malina Howard also finished with 12 points for Maryland (21-2, 12-0 Big Ten).
The Terrapins clung to a four-point lead at the break, but got off to a quick start in the second half. A pair of free throws by Jones a layup by Howard provided a 36-25 cushion with 17:58 remaining, forcing Iowa to call timeout.
A layup by Jones provided the Terps with their first double-digit lead, 41-31, with 14:07 left. Nebraska struggled to make shots and was just 10 of 31 (32.3 percent) from the field in the second half.
This allowed Maryland to maintain the lead and five straight points by Brown gave the Terps a 48-37 lead with 5:53 remaining. The Cornhuskers could not cut into the margin and Maryland continued to pull away.
Nebraska did not attempt a free throw until 3:26 left in the game when Hailie Sample pulled the Cornhuskers to 54-40. Maryland played much tighter defense on Laudermill in the second half to contain her open shots.
"They just limited my mid-range (jumpers)," Laudermill said. "They did a good job. But I wasn't really consistent. Congrats to Maryland."
The Terrapins also won the first matchup, 75-47, on Jan. 3.
The Cornhuskers took advantage of sloppy ball-handling by Maryland and Chandler Smith hit a jumper to provide a 22-21 lead with three minutes left in the half.
The Terrapins responded with a pair of layups by Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Howard to retake control. A jumper by Brown in the closing seconds provided a 29-24 lead at the break.
Maryland was 13 of 23 (56.5 percent) from the field, but committed 13 turnovers that led to nine points by Nebraska.
"It was a real slow start for us, but credit Nebraska and how they came out" Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "Obviously, we didn't help ourselves with the turnovers in the first half. It was nice to see the second half. We were finally able to get some stops."
Nebraska: Laudermill, a senior, went over the 1,000 mark for her career. She is one of 13 active players in the Big Ten to reach that mark.
Maryland: With six games remaining, the Terrapins will look to become first team to go unbeaten in the Big Ten since Purdue finished 16-0 in the 1998-99 season en route to a national championship.
Nebraska held Maryland to its lowest offensive output of the season. The Terps entered the game averaging 83.4 points per game. The Cornhuskers forced 16 turnovers, "They're bigger in every position," Yori said. We wanted to compete and we did. We gave ourselves a chance."
Nebraska hosts No. 16 Iowa on Thursday.
Maryland hosts No. 21 Rutgers on Tuesday.