By: Cody Wilcox
The Maryland women’s basketball team jumped out to a 15-0 lead against Clarion University in their final exhibition game of the season and never looked back, winning 127-41. Freshmen Shakira Austin and Taylor Mikesell led the way for the Terps as they scored 29 and 24 points each respectively, a collegiate high for both in their second game as Terps.
“We wanted to get them a lot of experience in these two exhibition games, obviously they are extremely talented. You would know that with how much time they spend in the gym, they are here early and stay late,” Freese said. “They are going to have a tremendous impact on us.”
The Terps began the game aggressive with a 1-2-2 press, forcing Clarion into six early turnovers. In result, Clarion had a difficult time executing their offense. The Golden Eagles shot 3-15 during the first quarter as Maryland’s defense continuously sped them up and forced difficult shots.
“We wanted to come out a lot more aggressively than we did last exhibition game,” Freese said. “I thought our defense kind of led to our offense, and really allowed us to play a complete 40-minute game.”
Mikesell got started early for Maryland as she had nine points by the end of the first quarter as the team led 33-7. Mikesell’s ball handling allowed her to push the ball up the court in transition and contribute to Maryland’s 21 points off of turnovers.
Maryland entered halftime with a 60-15 lead over Clarion, shooting 80 percent from the field with 42 points in the paint. Against Kutztown University in their previous exhibition game, Maryland had a total of 52 points in the paint. Ten of those points were from the freshman forward, Austin.
As Maryland returns four of their five top scorers in Kaila Charles, Blair Watson, Stephanie Jones and Brianna Fraser, Austin, ranked the No. 4 player of the 2018 class by ESPN, should be expected to get plenty of touches on the block.
“I just love her spirit,her energy that she is bringing to the floor, the will to compete and battle,” Freese said. “She is extremely versatile. You see her ability to block shots and rebound at the rim offensively. The different areas that she is able to make a huge difference– something that we were obviously missing a season ago that she’s been able to bring a big punch to our team.”
Following adjustments at halftime, Maryland returned to the second half in a 3-2 zone. The zone slowed the game down for Clarion, allowing them to exceed their first half point total. Sophomore guard Yndiah Bobo and freshman guard Morgan Dombroski contributed more than half of Clarion’s point total with 13 and 10 points respectively.
Austin continued to stay aggressive in the third quarter, doubling her points total to 20 and keeping her perfect field goal percentage from the first half.
The Terps entered the four quarter with a 68-point lead against the Golden Eagles and continued to apply offensive pressure with Austin, who shot 12 of 13 from the field and added 10 rebounds.
The University of Maryland women’s team will face Coppin State Nov. 9 in their home opener. The game can be seen on BTN Plus.