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Maryland women’s basketball throttles Illinois, 100-65, in Big Ten opener

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The Terps pick up an easy win to start conference play.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Maryland at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland women’s basketball had a dominant start to Big Ten play, running past Illinois, 100-65.

It was a dominant effort from start to finish, as Maryland’s offense was just too much for the Illini.

The Terps had five players in double figures, including an impressive 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists from Kaila Charles. Blair Watson continued her hot streak, hitting six three-pointers on her way to a 22 point, eight rebound and four assist night. Stephanie Jones was solid in the post, scoring 16 points and 11 rebounds for her first double-double since the season opener against Albany.

Maryland jumped out to an early lead, but still labored through some of the first few minutes. The Terps hit just three of their first 12 shots, but that wasn’t because of Illinois’s defense. They couldn’t get a few threes to fall, and also missed some shots in transition.

But once Maryland got going, Illinois failed to stop them. The Terps went to work in the paint, scoring 16 points inside in the first quarter and 28 in the first half. The Illini struggled to contain Fraser, and Charles was a force on the offensive glass. They took advantage of Illinois’ lack of size all night, outrebounding the Illini 54-34 and scoring 42 points in the paint.

Maryland started to run away with the game near the end of the quarter, and led 26-9 at the end of the opening frame.

The Terps’ offensive onslaught continued in the second quarter, as they went on a 15-4 run to extend the lead to 41-15. The sophomore trio of Charles, Blair Watson, and Stephanie Jones scored 12 of Maryland’s 15 points on the run, including this layup from Jones after a ridiculous save from Charles.

Illinois responded by hitting five of its next eight shots, but Maryland matched the Illini at nearly every opportunity, and led 57-31 at halftime.

Illinois continued to play hard in the second half, but the game was never in doubt. Watson hit five threes after intermission, and Ieshia Small hit two late layups to give the Terps 100 points for the third straight game.

Maryland is back in action on New Year’s Eve at Penn State. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.

Three things to know

  1. Maryland was in control from the opening tip. The Terps were able to play their game, which included a steady dose of points in the paint and in transition. Illinois also looked lost at times on offense, struggling to make plays whenever Alex Wittinger or Brandi Beasley didn’t get the ball.
  2. Kaila Charles was all over the court. The sophomore played her most complete offensive game this season, and was involved on nearly half the team’s field goals by the time she checked out of the game in the fourth quarter. Although she’s Maryland’s best scorer, Charles can’t do it all by herself, and in a blowout it was good to see her get her teammates involved.
  3. Blair Watson isn’t slowing down. Watson has hit more than five three-pointers in four straight games, and is now at 53 for the season. The school sophomore record is 73, and the Nutley, New Jersey, native is currently on pace to smash that mark.