Maryland started the day by getting their final four rings and raising their 2015 Final Four banner, “closing a chapter” in the words of Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. The new chapter began shortly after the pregame ceremonies. After a rocky start, the Maryland Terrapins got going and went on to rout visiting Umass-Lowell in their season opener. Walker-Kimbrough (SWK) and senior Brene Moseley led the way for the Terps, with SWK scoring 20 of her 22 points in the first half. The senior guard finished the job as she had scored 14 of her 24 points in the second half, she also dished out 10 assists. For Umass-Lowell, they got good performances from Nicole Hayner and Lindsey Doucette as they scored 15 and 10 points respectively. Turnovers were the big difference in this one, that and the rebounding margin. Both areas were dominated by the Terrapins as they won their season opener 102-53.
The Terps started a little slow on the offensive end with a few consecutive turnovers, but SWK wouldn’t let that become a trend. The Junior guard would score 15 of the team’s first 24 points, en route to a 30-7 lead first quarter lead. Umass Lowell struggled with the ball pressure from the Terps and couldn’t comfortably get in their sets and when they did, they couldn’t score. The defense was suffocating from the opening tip, as Maryland surrendered just 19 points at the half. When there was a brief lapse in pressure, Frese inserted Mosley into the game and she raised that level right back up. The Senior point guard had two and scored 10 points in the half, the most impressive being when she took the ball away from a ball-handler at the top of the key and raced down court untouched to end the half. Maryland would hold a 58-19 lead at the break.
At the start of the second half, Umass-Lowell decided to switch to a 2-3 zone as they found out early on they couldn’t defend the Terps in a man defense. That switch helped generate a few turnovers as Maryland didn’t initially respond well to the defensive switch. Similar to the first half, the Terps relied on their defense to get their offense going. Brionna Jones had a huge block, SWK followed it up with a steal on the wing and Kiara Leslie drilled a three pointer to cap a Maryland run. Hayner and Doucette really elevated their play in the second half for the visitors, both becoming more aggressive as the game wore on.
“We talked about it at halftime. Playing to our standard versus the score that is up on the scoreboard. That’s an area where you see signs of great teams that are really mature that don’t play to the scoreboard.” – Brenda Frese, Terps Head Coach
After scoring no more than 12 points in any of the three previous quarters, Umass-Lowell finished the game strong. As expected, it’s hard for a team that’s up by 30 plus points to stay fully engaged, but as Coach Frese shared after the game, “its what good teams do”. She was visibly frustrated with her team’s lack of engagement on the defensive end in the fourth quarter. Calling a couple of timeouts to really dig into them verbally, with less than three minutes left in the game Frese inserted starting point guard Chloe Pavlech back into the game. She was paired with Moseley and it was clear the intent was to reestablish that defensive pressure. The seniors went right to work, pressing up on ball handlers and getting in the passing lanes. Pavlech didn’t have a great game on the offensive end, but she did lock down on defense earning three steals.
“That’s an area that I’ve been really challenging them in practice. That’s a great stat. We have to be able to continue to have that kind of rebounding from out guards.” – Brenda Frese, Terps Head Coach
Maryland’s guards did a great job rebounding as Leslie and SWK brought down a combined 15 rebounds. The Terps held a 53-34 edge on the glass and it was evident that team rebounding is a focus this season. Leslie had herself a very well rounded game, although very quietly. The sophomore guard had 10 points, five steals, three assists, and eight rebounds.
“It’s probably going to take some more game experience. At times I thought they played well and at times I thought they played like freshman. They have to get more experience. -Brenda Frese, Terps Head Coach
During that rough start to the game, Kiah Gilespie was the next player to step up behind Walker-Kimbrough and get going. It started with a couple of baseline jumpers, a couple offensive rebounds and next thing you know she had nine points. The versatile frosh would finsih with 15 points,eight rebounds, two steals and a block. There were moments in which she looked like, a freshman. There’s also a sense that the stage isn’t remotely to big for her either. Fellow frosh Brianna Fraser played about 17 minutes off the bench, she had four points and five rebounds. Her role is a bit different from Gillespie’s, but that wasn’t a horrible fist outing.
Maryland has two more home games before leaving for St. Thomas to play in the Paradise Jam. The first of which is on Tuesday night when they host High Point.