While I was watching the stream of the field hockey championship I was also sitting in Comcast Center with one eye on the women's basketball team as they trounced the Loyola Greyhounds by an 89-53 final score. I joined the game a bit late for reasons you'll see if you read my recap of volleyball and by the time I walked into the arena, the Terps had sprinted to an 11-0 lead that included a quick three pointer by Chloe Pavlech, and back to back traditional three point plays from Alicia DeVaughn and Alyssa Thomas. The Maryland lead floated between eleven and sixteen before the game took a very streaky turn. A seven nothing run by Loyola pulled the visitors within nine at 25-16 with eight and a half minutes remaining in the first half. Maryland responded by scoring ten in a row over a three and a half minute span to go up by nineteen. Seven straight by the Greyhounds put the score at 35-23 with 3:28 to play in the half. And how did that final 3:28 play out? Why with the Terps outscoring the Greyhounds 11-2 to take a twenty-one point lead into the half. One of my notes said, "Terps made a living from the free throw line in the first half," and the halftime stat sheet confirmed that impression. Maryland had scored nearly half their forty-six points from the charity stripe making twenty of twenty-two free throws.
The Terps carried that momentum into the second half opening the half with a thirteen to three run fueled by three Alyssa Thomas baskets and five points from Shatori-Walker Kimbrough including a layup that put the Terps up by thirty-one. Over a nine minute span bridging the halves, the Terrapins outscored the Greyhounds twenty-four to five. Maryland was fairly methodical from that point forward. Loyola never got closer than twenty-seven and the Terps gradually built the lead into the low forties. Maryland led by forty with nine seconds to play when a foul away from the ball on a made Greyhound three point jumper offered the opportunity to see the rare five point play. However, a missed free throw left the event as a four point play.
Here's what I learned from seeing the Terps play against Division 1 competition for the first time this season:
In one aspect the freshmen are definitely freshmen. Expect to see some streaky play from them. In another, they're not. As Coach Frese said after the game, "I think the biggest compliment is they don't play like freshmen. All three of them have a lot of confidence."
The new "one touch" rule - intended to open up the game - is actually going to make games difficult to watch especially early in the season as coaches and players adjust. The game at USF had 46 fouls called and 54 free throw attempts. Sunday's home opener had 48 fouls called and 51 free throw attempts. The Terps were again very good from the line making 29 of 35 for nearly 83 percent.
Coach Frese will utilize her bench freely though she's still feeling out her substitution pattern. "At times it's going to be based on a great practice, first half of a game, where people are mentally, confidence wise. It's going to be a feel throughout the flow of a game." Shatori Walker-Kimbrough led the Terps with only 21 minutes played. Thomas and DeVaughn were the only other players who registered at least twenty minutes.
The Terps will be difficult to defend. Maryland spread the ball around well with five players in double figures led by Thomas and DeVaughn with 14 each. Thomas added 12 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. Tierney Pfirman was one rebound short of her own double-double pulling down nine boards to go with her eleven points.
After two games, Maryland has not shot well from long distance. The Terps were 5 for 15 at USF and took a step back on Sunday shooting just 2 for 12. If this continues to be a problem, they could start seeing more zone as the season progresses. And that's the lesson for today.
It's time to get your red on and fill the Comcast Center as the defending National Champion and consensus number one UConn Huskies come to College Park for a six pm match up on Friday, November 15. The Terps will be facing either a confident or angry Huskies team that will be coming off a game against third ranked Stanford Monday night.