Since the Maryland women's basketball team lost to No. 1 Connecticut in December, it has cruised through the beginning of its Big Ten schedule.
Minnesota stuck with the Terps but never could get even or take a lead. Nebraska and Northwestern lost by more than 30 points. Wednesday, though, Penn State and guard Teniya Page gave No. 3 Maryland a scare in the first half.
However, the Nittany Lions couldn't stop Maryland center Brionna Jones, who tied a program record with 42 points as the Terps secured an 89-83 win. She picked up her seventh-consecutive double-double with 14 rebounds to eclipse 1,000 boards in her career.
Maryland (16-1, 4-0 Big Ten) went on a 10-0 run late in the first half to grab a five-point lead at the break, and though Penn State made it a game late, the closest it got was within four points in the second half.
"We needed every single one of [Jones'] 42 points tonight to be able to get past Penn State," coach Brenda Frese said.
The Terps' defense wasn't always at its best early in the game, allowing Page, who entered Wednesday shooting more than 45 percent from deep, to get open looks and losing track of some Nittany Lions making cuts toward the basket.
"Penn State … was the most aggressive team for 40 minutes," Frese said. "Page and Amari Carter were tremendous, they really took a punch at us early."
Page scored four 3-pointers and 17 points in the first half, helping Penn State (11-6, 1-4) lead by as much as five early in the second quarter.
Jones helped prevent Penn State from pulling too far ahead. Early in the second quarter, she was fouled as she made a layup in transition and converted the and-one to tie the game at 32. Later in that period, she chipped in four points during a 10-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. It was the team's first long ball of the game, coming with less than a minute left before halftime.
"We were able to somewhat get back in the second quarter," Frese said, "staying the course to be able to go through Bri."
As her teammates showed inconsistency, Jones excelled throughout Wednesday's game. She made 15 of 19 shots from the field and went 12-for-14 from the foul line, smashing her previous career-best of 30 points and matching Marissa Coleman's program-record 42 points set March 28, 2009.
In February of last season, Walker-Kimbrough scored 41 points against Purdue, the only other 40-point game ever by a Terp.
"Coach played a video for us today about the right mindset and coming in and being in the zone," Jones said. "I just tried to find that place, and I think today just happened to be my day."
The Terps opened the third quarter on a 13-2 run and entered the final period leading 73-57. Penn State trailed by more than 10 for most of the fourth quarter, but never went away.
"I thought we were going to put them away when we were able to get that big lead," Frese said. "[But] Penn State handled that run remarkably."
The Nittany Lions came within four points as the seconds ticked down and the Terps missed some foul shots, but Maryland did enough down the stretch to stave them off. Page finished with 27 points and six 3-pointers, while Carter had 22 points.
Neither them nor Walker-Kimbrough, who scored 16 points, came close to the domination displayed by Jones. She was a large reason Nittany Lions center Ashanti Thomas fouled out while playing 16 minutes and why the Terps outscored Penn State, 52-32, in the paint.
"She makes it a lot easier. … it makes our offense flow just that much better," guard Destiny Slocum said. "Tonight she was the hot hand, and almost every night she's the hot hand."