By Hannah Fields
In the heat of Miami, the Maryland women’s basketball team (4-2, 0-0 Big Ten) came out even hotter against Kennesaw State (1-5, 0-0 ASUN) in its first game of the Miami Thanksgiving Tournament, defeating the Owls, 89-35.
Maryland’s sophomore guard Kaila Charles sank a jumper to begin the Terps’ dominance in the first half, followed by a three-pointer from senior guard Kristen Confroy, the first of her eight points on the day.
The Terrapins maintained their lead throughout the first quarter, leading 7-2 and forcing five turnovers by the Owls less than five minutes into the game. In addition to their dominance on defense, the Terps were able to spread the ball to multiple shooters on offense, showing a balanced game plan.
Three was the magic number for the Terps this game, with guards Sarah Myers, Channise Lewis and Blair Watson all sinking threes in the first quarter, contributing to Maryland’s 12-0 run to end the first quarter. Both the defensive and offensive efforts by the Terps helped them secure a comfortable 22-11 lead heading into the second quarter.
Watson continued her success from downtown, closing the first and opening the second quarter with a pair of threes, giving her team a 25-11 lead over the Owls, who struggled keeping possession on offense. By the middle of the second quarter, the Terps had forced 14 turnovers by the Owls, including two shot clock violations.
The score at halftime reflected the Terps’ dominance on all levels of the game, with Confroy scoring eight points and junior forward Brianna Fraser leading the team with seven rebounds at half.
Watson and Lewis opened the half by hitting back-to-back threes to widen their lead against the Owls. Freshman phenom Lewis showed her versatility throughout the game, earning eight assists and 10 points to go along with her disruption of the Owls’ offense.
With four minutes left in the third quarter, Watson led the team with 15 points, including 4-of-5 on three-point attempts. With the help of Watson’s career-high six threes on the game, the Terps were able to make 11 total threes by the middle of the fourth quarter.
The Owls shot 23 percent from the floor, compared to Maryland’s 51 percent, and were only able to score 35 total points in four quarters. All nine players on the Terps squad scored, with Fraser, Lewis, Watso, and Charles all scoring in the double digits. Watson got her career-high with 20 points, and Charles added 16 more to the Terps commanding lead.
Fraser, for the second game in a row, earned a double-double, with 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
The offense took flight in the second half, but it was the defense that secured the Terps’ win. By the time the final whistle blew, Kennesaw State had surrendered a total of 28 turnovers and had only 10 points in the paint.
The Terps will look to continue their offensive and defensive dominance when they take on Miami on Sunday to close out their games at the Miami Thanksgiving Tournament.