Maryland’s opening game had a bit of everything, some moments of dominance, some droughts, and even a historic milestone. Still, the Terrapins were able to beat a feisty Radford team 71-53.
It was a well balanced outing from Maryland as four of their five starters scored in double figures. Leading the way was Taylor Mikesell with 16, Kaila Charles had 14 points and nine rebounds, while Stephanie Jones had a quiet 12 points. It felt like Jones only scored when the team needed it most, Austin finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Destinee Walker led Radford with 15 points, 11 of which came in the first half. Khiana Johnson added 12 points and Lydia Rivers had 11 points. Their ability to force turnovers at different junctures of the game allowed them to stay in it, it also proved that they didn’t mail it in on the defensive end.
The first four minutes or so showed Maryland at their best, making life a living hell for their opponents with their stifling defense. They jumped out to a 14-2 lead, but Radford didn’t wilt under the initial punch. Desitnee Walker found her shooting stroke and kept her team afloat. Her confidence carried over to the rest of the team.
The Highlanders started the second quarter strong, cutting the deficit to five at one point. The ever steady Stephanie Jones was there to give Maryland a bit of cushion. Walker hit another three and that brought the Radford deficit to as little as three. The Terps would close the half strong courtesy of a 9-0 run, giving them a 33-20 lead at the break.
Coming out of the half, Brianna Fraser provided some Senior leadership with six quick points. Once again Maryland got off to a quick start, pushing the lead to as many as 23 points with a Mikesell triple near the end of the quarter.
Taylor passed Maryland legend Kristi Toliver’s single season record for three pointers in the third quarter. Kristi hit 91 in 2009, Taylor is now on 94 for the year.
Both of Maryland’s very talented freshman had slow first halves, they responded accordingly. Mikesell scored 11 of her 16 points in the second half. Austin scored 10 of her 11 points during that stretch as well.
Credit to Radford as they refused to quit, their Seniors had no problems sharing that Maryland’s length really bothered them. They have been pressed before and have seen zone many times, but the type of length the Terps have really got to them. Austin was the first player that came to Walker’s mind when making her point during the press conference.
The Highlanders Senior class hadn’t had a full season without injuries prior to this year. It was a special year for them and they seemed to enjoy the experience, regardless of the outcome. With the way they continued to fight, it’s easy to see why their coach was proud.
The win keeps Maryland’s perfect record in first round games unblemished as they’re now 15-0. The win wasn’t perfect as there are definitely some areas to clean up as they get ready for the winner of Tennessee and UCLA on Monday. Regardless of who they face, they’ll have to find a way to maintain that defensive intensity they started the game with for a longer period of time.