In the first round of this years tournament, Maryland’s Seniors made it known with their play that do not plan to go quietly into the night. That they won’t be leaving this tournament without leaving everything they have on the floor. The stellar duo of Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough combined to score 53 points in three quarters of play.
The Maryland mantra of “Defend, Rebound, Run” was in full effect. Specifically the defense part of that statement, they’ve been inconsistent on that front all year. One game into the tournament, they showed just how good a defensive team they could be. Bucknell found out rather early in this one. The Terps would hold Bucknell to 37% from the floor and 22.7% from three. They also forced 20 turnovers.
Maryland started a bit slow offensively, but their defense was ready to go. They started off trading baskets with Bucknell, but then Shatori and Bri went on a run. Yes, the two of them were responsible for 20 of the team’s 22 points. Their ball pressure on defense was great, it was spearheaded by SWK. She’s largely responsible for the team’s 5 steals in the period. Most teams have doubled Brionna from opening tip, Bucknell chose to let Sune Swart fend for her own. It went as expected, Jones scored 9 points quite efficiently.
The second period started slow, and then Jones and Kimbrough-Walker got started, again. By the end of the period SWK and Jones combined to score 35 points. The Seniors made it happen in the half court and the whole team was on a string on the defensive end. Maryland would up with 9 steals in the half and countless other deflections. From the ball pressure from the guards, to the denials from the post players, Maryland fought through every screen in Bucknell’s heavy motion offense. While the Terps weren’t struggled shooting on the perimeter, at least by anyone that wasn’t wearing #32, Jones was in the paint cleaning things up. Sophomore Brianna Fraser gave great minutes on both ends of the floor in the first half. Maryland carved out a 45-22 lead.
The Terps wasted no times putting things away in the opening minutes of the second half, Jones sparked an 8-2 run and Maryland never looked back.
Coach Brenda Frese took advantage of the 33 point lead and got some of those youngsters some tournament minutes. Despite the change in personnel, the Terps continued to get after it on the defensive end. The Terps would go on to win 103-61. They will play the winner of the Elon-West Virginia matchup.
Maryland’s defense never let their Bucknell’s Senior trio of Swart, Claire DeBoer, and Megan McGurk get on track. They scored a combined 31 points which was dwarfed by the 53 of Maryland’s Seniors. DeBoer had it worse than the rest, shooting just 1-for-8 in the final game of her college career. The Bucknell coach alluded to the Maryland ball pressure after the game, that it definitely did get to his team.
While Maryland started their short tournament last year off with a win, this definitely felt different. The sense of urgency from Jones and Walker-Kimbrough could be felt and they played with that urgency from opening tip.