When Maryland women’s basketball played Iowa on Jan. 14, the Terps got 22 points off the bench from senior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who has started every other game this season. When the teams met up two weeks later, the Terps once again got a boost off the bench, this time from Brianna Fraser.
The sophomore scored a career-high 17 points on just 5-of-6 shooting in Maryland’s 100-81 win. More impressive, Fraser put those numbers up in just 15 minutes, which was also how long it took her to score her previous career high of 14 against UMass-Lowell.
It was the second-most points scored by a Maryland player off the bench this season, and the most by one who has yet to make a start this year. For Fraser, it came down to what head coach Brenda Frese told her during the game.
“My coach just told me to drive the ball whenever I touched it and get to the free-throw line,” Fraser said.
This was an effective strategy, as Fraser had three possible and-one attempts, converting two of them. It also resulted in her tying her career high for free throws made, as she hit seven of her eight attempts.
Fraser has shown glimpses of her potential off the bench during her two years at Maryland, but Sunday was the best example so far.
“What’s really incredible to watch is the work she’s put in behind the scenes, and just the ability to be coached,” Frese said. “You see how talented she is. She can hit the free-throw line jumper and I think she’s just spectacular at drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line. I thought she was very active.”
Fraser’s career day was just one part of the Terps offensive explosion. Maryland shot 60 percent from the field, a new season high, and the Terps topped 100 points for the first time in Big Ten play.
More importantly, Fraser’s play gave Maryland some needed depth off the bench. Frese has emphasized this throughout the season, but it has become more important during conference play.
In non-conference play, Walker-Kimbrough led the team with 25.7 minutes per game, but the Terps’ starting five average nearly 30 minuts in conference play. If Maryland can get more production from its reserves, it makes the team that much more dangerous.
“When you talk about Bri Fraser, Stephanie Jones and Ieshia (Small) and Kiah (Gillespie), I thought we able to get some good energy,” Frese said. “Something that we’re really trying to build upon is our depth coming off the bench.”