The 2018-19 Maryland women’s basketball team has made its debut.
Yes, it was an exhibition against the Division-II Kutztown Golden Bears, but it’s the first time we’ve seen this squad in action.
As expected, the Terrapins easily walked to a 90-63 victory, holding a lead of at least 15 points for the final 22 minutes and 33 seconds of play. Here are five takeaways from the exhibition:
The starting lineup was a mix of young and old.
For the first time this year, the Terps had a starting five. On the court to begin the game were Channise Lewis, Taylor Mikesell, Kaila Charles, Stephanie Jones and Brianna Fraser. Lewis, Charles and Jones combined for 100 starts last season, but Fraser had just one and Mikesell is in her first year with the team.
Jones was extremely impressive, leading all scorers with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Mikesell and Charles also finished in double-figures, scoring 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Shakira Austin looks like the real deal.
The headline player of Maryland’s top-10 recruiting class was Shakira Austin, the No. 4 player in this year’s class. And on Sunday, her abilities were on full display.
Using her 6’5 frame, Austin dominated in the post against a Kutztown team devoid of any real size. The freshman cruised on the way to a 15-point outing, good for second on the team. Austin also tallied 10 rebounds and three assists, showing her all-around talent.
The three-point shooting looks improved.
Last season, perimeter shooting was one of this team’s biggest weaknesses. Maryland shot the three-ball at a .388 clip, and bringing in shooters was one of the goals of Frese’s offseason plans.
She did just that, signing Mikesell to the freshman class and getting junior college-transfer Sara Vujacic to join the team. Combined, the two went 7-12 from deep and stretched the floor to give the forwards more room to operate. As a team, the Terrapins shot the three at a .467 percentage.
Blair Watson received a standing ovation.
Watson was off to a blistering start last season, averaging 13.8 points through the first 17 games of the season. However, the now-junior guard tore her ACL in practice in January and had her breakout season cut short.
But thanks to a quick rehabilitation process, Watson is back on the court. And when she checked in at the 5:32 mark of the first quarter, the XFINITY Center crowd gave her a standing ovation to welcome her back.
Watson was eased in, only playing for 14 minutes throughout the course of the game. She posted a 2/2/1 slash line, and her progress is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Maryland was still sloppy in some areas.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the Terrapins on Sunday, as they showed their rust time and time again. The Terps turned the ball over nine times in the first half, as the offense failed to fully jell until later in the game (they finished with 13 giveaways). There were also a number of missed shots inside, but that will likely correct itself as the team gets more game action under its belt. Maryland’s free-throw shooting also left a lot to be desired, as the team made just 13 of its 19 attempts, which is a 68.4 percentage.
But it’s an easy win to start things off. The Terps will play Clarion in another exhibition Friday.