More than 10,000 students from 70 schools in the College Park area packed into XFINITY Center on Tuesday. From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the arena was as boisterous as it has been all season long.
In front of a youthful and energetic crowd, Maryland women’s basketball didn’t disappoint.
The Terps scored the first basket of the game against Towson and never looked back, completing a wire-to-wire 99-51 victory for their sixth straight win.
“I thought we fed off that energy,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said, pleased with her team’s performance after an 11 a.m. tipoff. “I loved our intensity to start the first half. We practice in the mornings, so I guess this was a good tip time for us.”
The Terps erupted for an 11-1 run in the opening four minutes. It was a particularly dominant showing by Bri McDaniel, who started the game 4-for-4, including a 3-pointer. Her ability to seamlessly transition from defense to offense has been vital, and it proved to be a catalyst for the quick barrage of points.
“It started with Bri,” Frese said. “She’s our motor out there. I thought she took that to heart and played one of her best games yet.”
Frese settled into a lineup with three forwards, including Faith Masonius, Allie Kubek and Emily Fisher. With Kubek’s shooting ability and each players’ defensive versatility, Maryland found success driving and kicking the ball on offense and locking down on defense.
“It’s size over speed,” Frese said. “I think it depends on what the different matchups look like. I thought [Masonius, Kubek and Fisher] were able to give us more of a kind of inside-outside approach.”
In the frame, the Terps forced five turnovers and held Towson to just 3-of-13 shooting. Frese’s squad primarily played man defense, also double-teaming inside.
The first quarter ended with Maryland comfortably in the lead, 23-8.
Preserving their lead in the second quarter, the Terps strayed away from shooting a great deal of 3-pointers, much like their last game against Northwestern.
The offense also slowed its pace in the period, as Maryland entered its half-court sets more often. However, the team played more cohesively in a spontaneous, fast-break style of play. It was then that the Terps caught the Tigers off guard, forcing them into switches and close-outs on shots they simply could not keep pace with.
In some ways, Maryland played better defense in the second quarter than the first, holding Towson to 2-of-13 shooting.
At the half, Maryland led 46-15.
The third quarter saw Towson rally for early 9-2 run, going 4-for-7 on field goals in the first three minutes, while the Terps went just 1-for-5.
The Tigers’ deftly utilized a full-court press, occasionally catching Maryland off guard. It led to some early buckets, as the Terps turned the ball over four times in the opening five minutes.
While Maryland regained its composure — holding Towson to 2-for-10 on field goals in the latter half of the quarter — the Tigers still won the frame, 25-24.
“I thought they came out of the locker room in the third quarter and showed their fight,” Frese said. “They weren’t going to quit.”
The fourth period saw Maryland score quite comfortably, as it put up 14 points in the five minutes. Freshman Riley Nelson contributed six of those points and displayed her creative scoring prowess and ability to be physical, earning a trip to the free-throw line.
Three things to know
1. Bri McDaniel showed out. McDaniel was everywhere Tuesday for the Terps, putting up a comprehensive showing on both ends of the court. She tied her career high of 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go along with a career-high six assists, a block and a steal.
“[What] I’m most proud of for [McDaniel] is her composure ... taking on that point guard role,” Brinae Alexander said. “Just knowing how to stay poised.”
2. The freshmen got an extended run. With the lopsided score, Frese gave the freshmen extended minutes, and they took full advantage, combining for 29 points. Fisher emerged from the pack, contributing a team-high eight rebounds.
Nelson also scored 10 points, while Hawa Doumbouya added eight points, five rebounds and three assists.
3. The Terps have found their groove. The Terps look vastly more comfortable with one another compared to the start of the season. What’s more promising: the lineups and rotations seem to be largely set, aside from Lavender Briggs, who is still out with an injury.
Maryland only plays two games in the next 19 days, with the latter against Nebraska on New Year’s Eve.