COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Kaila Charles made a buzzer-beating layup to cap a furious comeback by No. 8 Maryland, which never led until that final basket sealed a 71-69 victory over Minnesota on Thursday night.
The Terrapins trailed 54-38 in the third quarter, by 11 with 8:59 remaining and 67-60 with 1:58 to go before closing with an 11-2 run against the stunned Golden Gophers.
Maryland (24-3, 13-3 Big Ten) began the day tied atop the conference with Iowa, which played a late game at Indiana on Thursday. After losing at Iowa on Sunday, the Terps were in danger of dropping two straight for the first time this season until storming back to end Minnesota’s six-game winning streak.
Charles finished with a season-high 31 points, including the game-tying layup with 6.6 seconds left. After Minnesota got the ball past midcourt and called a timeout, Shakira Austin deflected the inbounds pass to Charles, who drove the length of the floor for the game-winning basket.
Destiny Pitts scored 24 and Kenisha Bell added 23 for the Golden Gophers (19-8, 8-8). Pitts, a sophomore guard, has scored at least 21 in four straight games. But she fouled out in the final minute, and Minnesota couldn’t survive without her.
After Pitts picked up her fourth foul with 7:09 remaining, Taylor Mikesell hit successive 3-pointers in a 10-4 surge for Maryland that made it 65-60. Charles then stole the ball, but blew a layup and Pitts made a reverse layup.
Charles made amends for the miss down the stretch.
Maryland played most of the game without senior forward Brianna Fraser, who fell to the floor under the basket with three minutes left in the first quarter. She watched the final three quarters from the end of bench with a pair of crutches and a bag of ice on her left ankle.
Fraser has played in all 27 games this season, starting twice, and ranks fifth on the team in scoring.
Minnesota first-year coach Lindsay Whalen played for Maryland coach Brenda Frese in 2001-02 at Minnesota. After the Golden Gophers went 22-8 that season and Whalen was named Big Ten Player of the Year, Frese left for Maryland.
Minnesota: Despite the loss, the Golden Gophers showed plenty of spirit on the road against a Top 10 team. They didn’t win, but this team has clearly benefited from playing for Whalen.
Maryland: The Terps appear to have hit a lull, but they’re in first place and this victory clinched a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
Minnesota: At Rutgers next Thursday, a rematch of a game won by the Gophers 60-46 on Feb. 3.
Maryland: At Purdue on Monday. The Boilermakers are 13-3 at home.