Terps win (again) despite ‘sluggish’ start

by Gabe Fernandez

No. 6 Maryland women’s basketball picked up their third consecutive win of the season Friday, beating Mount Saint Mary’s 106-42.

Fresh off of a 106-61 victory against Eastern Shore, the Terps were unable to get off to their usual quick start. The team trailed the Eastern Shore 13-10 at one point in the first quarter that head coach Brenda Frese described as “slow” and “sluggish” that may have been affected by an early game time.

“I thought it took us a little bit early [in the game] to wake up,” said Frese. “Our shot wasn’t falling, we weren’t as crisp as we normally are. Again, just the challenge of when we play early, to be ready for tournament games that might start this early.”

The less-than-stellar start did not affect the team for long. Maryland was able to convert six of their last 7 field goals to lead 18-13 by the end of the first quarter. The second half of the game was all Terps. Maryland outscored Mount St. Mary’s 34-9 in the third quarter and started off the fourth with a 15-0 run. Frese attributed the rejuvenated start to a change in mindset.

“We were just more focused,” said Frese. “We were disappointed in our first half of play. When we put our mind to it, when we’re locked in, the team is really talented.”

The Terps started to turn around their game when they began working from the inside-out and using their height to their advantage instead of making the game “more difficult than it needs to be,” Frese said. The height advantage showed on the stats sheet with Maryland getting a +36 rebounding differential and 64 points in the paint.

Senior center Brionna Jones led the Terps’ winning effort with her 34th career double-double, scoring 18 points on 8-12 shooting and grabbing 10 boards in 18 minutes. Redshirt Freshman Ieshia Small made up for her 2-point performance on Wednesday by scoring 14 points, grabbing 7 rebounds and getting 5 assists.

“[Frese] talks about it all the time, you just got to let it go and move on to the next play,” Small said of her last game. “It started yesterday in practice. I knew [Frese] forgot about it so I knew I had to forget about it and just come out and play today.”

Small’s points contributed to the Maryland bench’s 60-point scoring effort was mostly led by freshman. Blair Watson and Jenna Staiti, both freshmen, scored 9 and 10 points, respectively. Watson said despite the sluggish start, there didn’t seem to be pressure in the second half to put the team on her back.

“Coach always tells us to be prepared when your number is called and that’s what I felt like I did,” said Watson. “It’s a team game, no one can do it alone.”

Despite the third consecutive home victory involving a 100-point scoring effort, coach Frese continues to look at ways to improve for the team’s first away game at Niagara University.

“We have to have a quicker start on the road,” said Frese. “You can’t go into someone else’s arena, especially with six freshmen, and not be ready to play.”

Maryland will look to extend their winning, and 100-point scoring, streak to four games on Sunday when they travel to New York to face Niagara University.