By: Gabe Fernandez
The freshmen of the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class highlighted No. 6 Maryland’s home opener against UMass-Lowell on Sunday at XFINITY Center with a 100-44 win.
Maryland started the game hot as they were up 57-16 at halftime, despite a two-and-a-half minute scoring drought in the second quarter. Senior guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough said that the hot start was simply a part of the early game plan.
“We wanted to come out and set the tone early,” said Walker-Kimbrough. “We wanted to also set the standard. Going out, like coach said, one of our main goals was just to play Maryland basketball: defend, rebound and run.”
Walker-Kimbrough had 14 points along with 3 assists and 2 rebounds. McDonald’s All-American freshmen guards Kaila Charles and Destiny Slocum also highlighted the team’s scoring efforts as they made their first official starts for the Terps.
Charles started her Maryland career off strong by, scoring her first basket off of a fast-break steal in the first quarter and getting a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 boards. Slocum ended with a team-leading 15 points as well as 5 rebounds and 6 assists. She said she started a little too excited, but ultimately felt more comfortable as the game went on.
“There came a point where I found kind of like a rhythm but it was more just my team giving me good shots and we were running our offense well so the good shots kept flowing,” said Slocum.
The rest of Maryland’s freshmen class ended up getting playing time in the Terps’ century-marked scoring effort. In the second quarter, freshman Stephanie Jones was subbed on to play alongside her older sister, senior Brionna Jones. Maryland coach Brenda Frese praised all the freshman for their talent and cohesion with the team.
“I thought that at times they showed some nerves, but I thought overall they showed they belong,” Frese said. “That’s the thing, they’re going to help us in so many areas because they’re so talented.”
The Terps also found success on the defensive end of the ball forcing 24 turnovers in the first half, with 11 steals coming in 11 minutes, and only allowing UMass to shoot 30 percent from the field. Maryland also had a +22 rebounding differential in an attempt to repeat as national-leaders in that category.
Coach Frese said that while there were many highlights to look at statistically, there were still areas that the team could improve on.
“We’re not satisfied yet with our free throw percentage in terms of what we’re doing and I think we can do better in terms of our communication,” said Frese. “We weren’t always on the same page on the defensive end and that’s going to be a very important area for us as we go into hostile environments on the road.”
Maryland will look to work on these areas and start off their season with back-to-back wins on Wednesday when they face University of Maryland Eastern Shore at home.