Before Maryland women’s basketball started its 2016-17 season, the Terps unveiled the banner honoring their Big Ten regular season and tournament titles from the spring. The ceremony was complete with rings and a hype video. But the new banner also reads “NCAA 2nd Round,” giving this year’s team something to improve upon.
Though that part of the season months away, the Terps brought tournament-level intensity to their season opener on Saturday. Maryland routed UMass Lowell, 100-44.
The margin wasn’t quite as drastic as it was during the team’s two scrimmages, but this game was never in doubt. Maryland swarmed the River Hawks on defense and took care of business on offense. UMass Lowell committed 34 turnovers, leading to 48 Maryland points.
Destiny Slocum led the way with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists in her first official college contest. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 14 points in just 15 minutes of play. Five Terps finished in double figures and all 12 players scored in the game.
The Terps scored the game’s first seven points, took a 17-3 lead in short order and finished the quarter ahead 34-5. The second period wasn’t nearly as one-sided, as Brenda Frese sent out mainly reserves and eased off the press somewhat, but Maryland still entered the locker room ahead 57-16.
Maryland was in cruise control for much of the second half, with a heavy dose of younger players getting most of the action. The team still easily stretched the lead beyond 60 points on multiple occasions, and the 56-point final margin surpasses the 49-point victory that opened last season.
The Terps return to action Wednesday night, when Maryland-Eastern Shore comes to College Park. Maryland beat the Hawks by 76 points last December.
Three things to know
1. Destiny Slocum was the breakout freshman of the day. After Blair Watson scored 29 points in the team’s first exhibition and Jenna Staiti dropped 25 in the second one, it was Slocum’s turn to dominate the game. She did lose control on a couple fast breaks, but that’s understandable for a freshman in her first game. With Slocum at the point, Maryland’s offense should be in good hands going forward.
2. Stephanie Jones is back. The freshman tore her ACL during her last high school season, and spent her first summer with the Terps recovering. She didn’t see the floor during the Italy trip, and even after she was cleared in October, she sat out both scrimmages. Jones checked in for the first time as a Terp early in the second quarter to a nice ovation from fans and teammates; older sister Brionna entered the game with her. Stephanie finished the game with seven points, while Brionna tallied four.
3. The aggressive defense was too much for the River Hawks. Maryland’s defensive quickness is pretty comical; at times, it seems like Terrapin defenders move faster than the ball. Any long pass UMass Lowell attempted was more likely than not to end up going the other way. This consistent thievery won’t last forever, but in the meantime it’s a fun mix of cruel and riveting.