Veteran Kaila Charles Leads a Late Surge Past Wisconsin

By: Brittney Bridges

The Maryland women’s basketball team (19-2, 8-2 BIg Ten) hosted the Wisconsin Badgers (11-11, 2-8 Big Ten) Thursday night and pulled out a 75-57 win. Wisconsin was coming off of an impressive 14-point comeback win last Sunday against Nebraska and looked to continue its winning ways as they visited College Park.

Both teams started off relatively sloppy, including both Kaila Charles and Shakira Austin missing open layups. It wasn’t until around three minutes into the first quarter when Charles got hot, including a step back jumper to extend the lead to 10.

The Badgers notably struggled down low with freshman Shakira Austin, as she only had two blocks in the game. Wisconsin also had trouble guarding the front court, as Maryland constantly screened Taylor Mikesell and other guards for easy jumpers.

WIsconsin managed to cut down the lead down to two at the end of the first quarter, with easy cuts to the basket sneaking past Maryland defenders, but Maryland managed to bounce back by halftime as they led by eight.

Despite the notable advantage that the Terps had, the largest lead had only been by 12 early on in regulation.

Maryland came out stronger both offensively and defensively in the second half, but Wisconsin still managed to cut the deficit down a couple times more, causing Maryland to implement a full court press.

“We started a little slow in the first half and I credit Wisconsin,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “I think the defensive intensity led to the aggressiveness on the offensive end.”

Charles, perhaps the most experience player on the team, only had six points in the first half, but came out hot in the second as she finished with 22. Shakira Austin and Blair Watson also contributed by both adding 11. Austin also had her eighth double-double of the season including her 10 rebounds.

“We got more energy and then we just started feeding off of each other,” Charles said about her delayed production.

It was apparent that late in the third quarter, Wisconsin grew tiresome and couldn’t keep up with the fast pace. Charles scored multiple fast break layups, including an “and one” to which she celebrated with a dance with the support from the loud and cheering Maryland bench.

“My teammates just encouraged me to run the floor and be aggressive and attack,” Charles continued.

Maryland has one of their more difficult stretches coming in the next couple of weeks as they take on No. 17 Rutgers and No. 13 Iowa which are both away games.

“We understand that there are a lot of great games and competition ahead,” Frese concluded. “From our end, we just have to keep our head down and keep going to work.”

The Terrapins next game will be this Monday against Illinois at 7:30. Maryland now improves their record just one shy of 20 wins on the season.