BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Seconds before the final buzzer sounded and Maryland women's basketball's season ended with an upset loss to Oregon, Brenda Frese pulled Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough off the floor for the final time in their careers.
As freshman point guard Destiny Slocum dribbled the ball out to end the 77-63 loss, she thought about the duo that taught her so much during their one season together, and how this was really the end.
“The thing that was going through my head at that last minute was that we sent them out this way,” Slocum told reporters after the game. “It sucks when you have two amazing people and two amazing players, and you know they deserve so much more.”
Jones and Walker-Kimbrough played 142 games together in their four years at Maryland. The Terps went 125-17 in those contests, reaching two Final Fours and capturing three straight Big Ten titles along the way. The 125 wins is one shy of Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver’s 126 victories in four years.
“I can’t say enough in terms of what they embodied on the court and off the court,” Frese said, “I know they’re gonna continue on and do great things.”
Jones broke the program's single-season scoring record in the first quarter. Vicky Bullet held the honor for 28 years, and although Walker-Kimbrough nearly topped it last season, it’s Jones that stands atop the list now with 697 points in 35 games. She also hauled in 380 rebounds, one shy of Alyssa Thomas’ record of 381 in 2014.
“I couldn’t imagine playing at any other school, and I’m glad that I chose Maryland and ... the player I’ve developed myself into,” Jones said. “Credit to the coaches and the players that I’ve gotten the chance to play with, and it’s just been an amazing experience.”
Walker-Kimbrough closed her career with a 6-of-18 shooting performance, but catalyzed Maryland’s attempt at a fourth-quarter comeback, scoring six straight points to cut Oregon’s lead to six with just over three minutes to go. She was 0-for-3 on three-pointers, an uncharacteristic finish for a career 46 percent shooter from deep.
Both players are all over the school’s career record books, as well. Walker-Kimbrough is third all-time with 2,156 points, second with 186 three-pointers made, and first in career three point percentage. Jones, meanwhile, is tied with Bullet for sixth in program history with 1,928 points and alone in third with 1,209 career rebounds. Their 142 games each are tied with Brene Moseley for third all-time, trailing only Coleman’s 144 and Laurin Mincy’s 143.
Their jerseys are honored in the Xfinity Center rafters for a reason, after all.
Both players entered Maryland as four-star recruits, part of a class that also included blue-chippers Lexie Brown and A’Lexus Harrison. While those two transferred in each of the past two offseasons, Jones and Walker-Kimbrough became the centerpieces of the team. The promising freshmen blossomed into into All-Americans before all was said and done.
“That’s why we’re in coaching, when you talk about their four years and the progression,” Frese said, voice trembling. “How they came in as freshmen and where they were, to be able to see them lead this team to new heights ... Bri and Shatori didn’t come in like this. It was a progression.”
Next season’s Terps will have a new look by necessity. They’ll get another shot at UConn next season, but it will be a road game, and the Huskies will return the entire core of their currently-undefeated team. The six freshmen this season won’t have the duo to lean on, but they’ll have their example to remember.
Jones and Walker-Kimbrough will be in the WNBA—they’re projected as first-round picks—as soon as next month. Playing the game at the highest level will be a dream come true for both, but they’ve likely played their last game together for the foreseeable future, and that’s worth being sad about.
“I can’t repay this university for everything they’ve done for me,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “They’ve opened so many doors.
“I’m glad I spent my four years here at the University of Maryland.”