By Aiden Currie
With just under three minutes to play in the first quarter, Maryland guard Jakia Brown-Turner drove to the basket and finished a layup to give the Terps a modest six-point lead. As the buzzer sounded on the opening 10 minutes their lead had nearly doubled, largely due in part to a run that saw Brown-Turner score nine of Maryland’s last 11 points to close out the quarter.
Maryland (4-3) spilt the first two games of the Cancun Challenge, falling to #23 Washington State on Thursday before defeating Green Bay in yesterday’s contest.
Despite the 1-1 tournament record heading into today however, the Terps struggled to maintain leads in both games.
That wasn’t an issue for the Terps in today’s tournament finale, as they never trailed en route to a 92-63 victory over the UMass Minutewomen (1-7).
“One of our goals that we tuned into was that we wanted to win every quarter, which we were able to do,” said Maryland head coach Brenda Frese. “[We] just really focused on trying to put a complete 40-minute game together.”
In one of the Terps most complete performances thus far, Jakia Brown-Turner had both a team and career high 17 points. Brinae Alexander and Shyanne Sellers also scored in double figures, with 13 points each.
Alexander recorded six of Maryland’s season high 19 steals. In addition to the steals the Terps also forced 28 turnovers, which was another season high.
“I thought [Bri]nae with her defense really set the tone,” said Frese, who also added, “[It] was nice to be able to see Jakia’s most points as a Terp so far, with more to come.”
As a team, the story of the game for Maryland was transition play. The Terrapins didn’t just create turnovers, they turned them into points as well by outscoring the Minutewomen 46-24 off of turnovers, which proved to play a vital role in helping the Terps maintain their early lead throughout the game.
“We learned a lot from these past two games,” said Brown-Turner. “We knew we needed to play together as a team. We sought that [out] and tried to give each other the ball … which actually helped us get out and run in our transition.”
After some offensive scuffles in the previous two games, Maryland kept the ball moving on offense to create a lot of open layups and midrange shots, as the Terps shot 50.8% from the field, and scored 54 of their 92 points from inside of the arc.
The Terps also got offensive production from up and down their roster, with 39 bench points, 25 of which came from their freshmen. Riley Nelson and Emily Fisher each totalled eight points to lead the Terps’ freshmen in scoring.
“After I knew we couldn’t get Washington State I wanted to be able to get [the freshmen] some minutes,” said Frese. “It’s good that we’re coming out of this schedule of top 25 power teams. The schedule’s been lopsided a little bit too much, but [the freshmen] are working hard … [and] hopefully these minutes will continue to be able to be extended.”
Despite dropping the opener of the Cancun Challenge, Maryland will head back to the states on a high note after winning their final two games of the tournament, and recording back to back wins for the first time this season.
The Terps will hope to tack on a third win in a row, as they face off against Niagara (2-3) in a non-conference matchup, at the XFINITY Center on Wednesday night at 7:00pm.