No. 12 Maryland Women’s Basketball tipped off its Big Ten home opener in style, defeating No. 23 Michigan 70-55 at the Xfinity Center.
All-Big 10 guard Kaila Charles, struggling offensively, averaging over five fewer points-per-game than her career-average of 17.9. Saturday, though, Charles reintroduced herself as one of the conference’s best players, announcing her presence with authority with a dominating performance. Charles had a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds and collected three steals.
“Kaila Charles had an exceptional night,” said Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico.
A close game through three quarters, Maryland’s swarming defense allowed the Terrapins to maintain the lead for 33:38 of the game. Michigan’s last lead was 8-7 at 3:52 in the first. The Terrapins forced 23 turnovers, which led to 25 points.
“Defensive pressure is everything,” said forward Stephanie Jones.
Maryland was able to maintain its lead while Charles sat with three fouls in the third quarter. Sophomore guard Shakira Austin, took over in her stead, scoring six of her 10 points, upholding the Terps’ lead by two as the third ended 34-32.
“It was a huge spark for us; it gave us confidence,” said Maryland coach Coach Frese. “That was the toughness Shakira gave us in practice the last two days in practice.”
“Michigan is always coached, tough physical team,” said Frese. “I thought it was a 40-minute all the way, and they pushed us to the end.”
Maryland outrebounded Michigan 43 to 35, with 17 offensive rebounds leading to Maryland scoring 15 second-chance points. Charles collected 7 of the team’s offensive rebounds.
Michigan trailed Maryland but was outshooting the Terps through three quarters. However, the game was put away in the fourth quarter, with Maryland outscoring the Wolverines 28-17, shooting 80 percent from the field and hitting its only two 3-point shots for the entire game.
“It was a great game until the fourth quarter,” said Coach Arico.
Maryland’s defense held the team leading scorer, forward Naz Hillmon, scoreless the first half, but she finished with 15 points. Still, she couldn’t do much damage against the Terps.
“I think teams are really keying on her [Hillmon], said Arico.
With the win, Maryland improves to 10-2. The Terps travel to Evanston, Illinois, to face Northwestern next.