Yet again, the second ranked Maryland Terrapins fell victim to one of their biggest issues. The Fighting Illini of Illinois did a great job of muddying the game up early as both teams were shooting 30’s percentage wise midway through the first quarter. For a team like Maryland, playing slow is out of character for them and that’s how Illinois was able to prevent the game from blowing wide open in the first quarter. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough led the way with 29 points the Senior guard was aggressive from opening tip until her night was over.
Walker-Kimbrough and Destiny Slocum would hit back-to-back triples to close the first quarter to extend Maryland’s lead to 14 points. The Terrapins really settled in on the defensive end of the floor, forcing a shot clock violation literally two minutes into the period. That trend of outstanding defense continued as the Illini were held to 23% shooting in the quarter.
The second half started with both teams trading baskets, the highlight of the third quarter may have been a Destiny Slocum pass on a 2-on-1 break. She led the defender between her and Ieshia Small at her mercy before dropping the dime to the cutting Small at the last second. That was one of the few positives in a quarter mired by more sloppy play from Maryland. Illinois should be commended for continuing to play hard until the final buzzer, but the Terps just seemed a bit off all night. They seemed a little disjointed and lacked some of their usual energy.
Despite what clearly felt like an off night, Maryland wound up with a large margin of victory against Illinois. There’s not a bunch of analysis for a game like this, it’s atypical of Maryland. Leading the way for Illinois was Alex Wittinger with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Brandi Beasley had been hot in conference play leading up to their visit to College Park. The young guard had accumulated 100 points in the prior five games. Maryland’s length and size really bothered Illinois during that stretch before halftime.
Despite not fully playing up to their standard, Maryland got the job done. They’ll definitely need to get back on schedule as they head out on the road to play a tough Michigan State team this weekend.
Energy. This was the first time all season that Maryland didn’t look like themselves from an energy standpoint. In past contests, regardless of their shooting percentage, they didn’t lack energy. That wasn’t the case today and I look forward to their road game against Michigan State to see if that infectious energy they normally play with returns.
SWK. What else to say? On a night when her team lacked a bit of energy, she answered the bell by being aggressive from the opening tip. The Senior started off by attacking the basket, she missed a few open three pointers, but kept shooting. That would pay off as the Terps used a spurt from SWK to put a bit more distance between them and Illinois. The Senior moves into fifth on the school scoring list with 1,934 points, passing Vicky Bullet in the process.
Ball Movement. The Terps average 20 assists a game, they had 25 on 31 made field goals. It was an impressive showing by Maryland, Destiny Slocum had a career high 13 assists. That gave her 148 assists on the year, breaking the previous freshman record by Terps legend Kristi Tolliver. Walker-Kimbrough had six assists as well, seven Maryland players had at least one assists.
Bri Jones. The Senior drew a ton of attention from the Illini, but she still managed to contribute with her 50th career double-double. She passed current Mystics forward Tianna Hawkins on the rebounding list with 1,090 rebounds, sliding into fourth place in the process. She played a big role in moving the ball against Illinois, drawing two and three defenders at a time, that initial pass out of the post got the ball moving quicker on the perimeter.
Depth. Maryland has been getting good production from it’s bench over the past few games, that wasn’t the case against Illinois. The second unit scored just 17 points, coming into this game sophomore Breanna Fraser was getting that by herself. It’s only one game, but those players have to step up so that in games like this, the starters can get some much needed rest. One of the Terps strengths is being able to wear teams down, but that only happens when the bench is productive.