Maryland women’s basketball breezed past Illinois Thursday to improve to 24-1 on the season, extending the best start in program history.
The No. 3 Terps easily handled the Illini for the second time in just over two weeks, following up a 94-49 win on Jan. 26 in Champaign with an 84-59 victory at Xfinity Center. This wasn’t quite as dominant of a showing by Maryland, but it was more than enough.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough headed the charge with 29 points, five rebounds and six assists. The senior shot 10-of-19 from the field and 6-of-12 from three-point range. Kaila Charles tallied 16 points, while Brionna Jones added 12.
Destiny Slocum dished out a season-high 13 assists, and the Terps had 25 assists on their 31 made field goals. Slocum broke Kristi Toliver's school freshman record for assists with plenty of room to spare.
Illinois had four double-figure scorers, led by Alex Wittinger, who had 15 points. The Illini made 11 three-pointers on 23 attempts, but didn’t enjoy the same success inside the arc, shooting just 34 percent overall. They also didn’t attempt a free throw until the fourth quarter.
The nation’s best rebounding team crashed the boards at will, as Maryland outrebounded the Illini 53-31 for the game, including 29-13 in the first half. Jones pulled down 11, while Kristen Confroy and Kaila Charles grabbed nine and eight, respectively.
Maryland took a while to get going in both the first and second quarters. A slow start from the field allowed Illinois to lead 5-2 a couple minutes in, but the Terps kicked things in gear and led 26-12 after the first quarter.
The Terps’ slow start to the second quarter was much more pronounced, as the Terps opened with three missed field goals and three turnovers. Illinois hit two threes to cut the lead to 12 before Walker-Kimbrough resumed the scoring with a transition layup nearly four minutes into the period. Maryland closed the half with a 10-0 run to take a 40-20 lead into the locker room.
The lead was 60-37 through three quarters and stretched as high as 28 in the fourth. The Terps’ reserves didn’t get quite as much run as they did in the previous matchup—Jenna Staiti and Blair Watson didn’t see the court—but it was still a stress-free win.
Three things to know
1. Illinois was no match for Maryland inside. Matt Bollant’s team is one of the smallest in the Big Ten, and the Illini simply couldn’t contend with Maryland down low. In addition to the lopsided rebounding numbers, the Terps outscored Illinois 34-18 in the paint.
2. The Terps held another star guard in check. After Indiana’s Tyra Buss shot just 2-for-17 against Maryland Sunday, Illini point guard Brandi Beasly went 0-for-8 in the first half and finished the game 3-of-19.
3. The seniors are still working their way up the career leaderboards. Jones’ 11 boards move her into fourth place on the school’s all-time rebounding list, passing Tianna Hawkins. Walker-Kimbrough passed Vicky Bullett for fifth on the scoring list in the fourth quarter.