By: Brandon Simberg
Brianna Fraser checked into Saturday’s contest against James Madison and immediately grabbed an offensive rebound and finished a layup. That basket gave the Terps a 13-11 lead that they would never look back from. Fraser, a senior forward, would continue to score inside all game. She finished the game tying her career high in points with 24 and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Fraser, who was in starting lineup for the first two games of the season before going back to her role off the bench, has provided a spark for the Terps this season averaging 7.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Her size and versatility allows for her to play alongside other Terp forwards like Stephanie Jones and Shakira Austin. Together, that trio forms one of the best rebounding frontcourts in the Big Ten.
“I just came out ready. My teammates gave me a lot of confidence to come out ready and just play my game,” Fraser said.
Fraser was especially active on the offensive boards. She secured five in the win and is third on the team 18 offensive rebounds on the season. Her energy on both ends of the floor will be crucial for the Terps going forward.
“She was playing so hard that I couldn’t take her off the floor,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “I think that’s the best game of her career.”
Freese was right. She couldn’t take out Fraser, who played a season-high 27 minutes, which is 12 minutes higher than her minutes per game average. It was only the second time this season that Fraser played more than Jones.
As a unit, the Maryland forwards were dominant on Saturday. Fraser, Jones and freshman Shakira Austin combined for 33 points and 18 rebounds. The Terps have dominated the glass all season and as a result, they are the No. 3 rebounding team in the country.
“I told Coach Freese after the game that those post players are difference makers,” James Madison head coach Sean O’Regan said. “There’s not two of them and then they get in foul trouble and bring in an undersized post. The fact that they can play (Kaila) Charles at the three for most of that game is a mismatch.”
Fraser not only plays a key role on the court, but she is an important piece off the court as well. She is the only senior on Maryland’s roster. Her experience and leadership has helped the younger players adjust to playing at the college level, most important the two freshmen in Austin and Taylor Mikesell.
“She’s been big with my growth early on,” said Mikesell, the freshman guard who finished with 16 points in the win. “We’re all trying to play for her. Our number one goal is to be in Tampa (the location of the Final Four), and we’re all trying to do that for Bri right now.”