After dominating from the opening tip Sunday against UMass Lowell, Maryland women’s basketball took a little longer to get going Wednesday against Maryland Eastern Shore.
The Terps made some careless passes and got into some foul trouble, but were still able to build a 25-point lead by halftime. Maryland was able to maintain its composure, and it started with the steady play of senior Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.
“They give us great comfort, great security, and I think they settle everybody in,” head coach Brenda Frese said after the game. “They’re the calming influence on the court for everyone to play around and within.”
After scoring 12 points in the first half Sunday, Walker-Kimbrough had another hot start Wednesday. The senior had 16 of her 19 points in the first half, going 6-of-7 from the field and making all three of her three-point attempts.
The Hawks had no answer on how to stop the 5’11 senior, as she knifed through the defense for layups, set up her teammates on fast breaks, and hit wide-open threes.
But few teams can stop Walker-Kimbrough when she plays like she did Wednesday, as she got in rhythm early and was able to make plays.
“We just took what the defense gave us,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “We all had open shots, it was just about knocking them down. I thought we took advantage of that throughout the game.”
Jones took just three shots in the season opener, but Frese knew that would have to change going forward. Frese said she talked to her guards about getting Jones the ball in practice this week, and they appeared to get the message.
The 6’3 senior got the ball in the post early and often, scoring 17 points in just 16 minutes, with 13 points coming in the first half.
“I think it makes our guards’ jobs easier when the defense has to defend Bri inside. It gives us a tremendous presence,” Frese said.
Frese was able to turn to her bench for most of the second half, but that won’t be the case when the competition gets tougher. She’ll have to rely more on Jones and Walker-Kimbrough, but the seniors should be prepared, as they’ve played in numerous high pressure games in their time at College Park.
“They’ve been through the wars,” Frese said. “I know when they’re calm, the team can feed off their presence.”