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Maryland women’s basketball finishes nonconference play with 77-53 win over Delaware

The No. 5 Terps will enter the Big Ten schedule 11-0.

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

Maryland women’s basketball has been perfect through the entirety of its nonconference slate. After pulling away in the second half to beat Delaware, 77-53, on Thursday afternoon, the Terrapins are 11-0 heading into Big Ten play.

The offense played far from its best against the Blue Hens, but it received quality contributions from the usual suspects. In her first start of the season, Shakira Austin had the most consistent showing of any of the Terps. The freshman led the way with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor, and she also added 13 rebounds and a whopping eight blocks.

Stephanie Jones continued her high level of play by raising her season scoring average of 13.2 points per game with a 15-point showing against Delaware. The junior shot an efficient 5-of-9 from the floor while going a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Kaila Charles poured in 16 points and Taylor Mikesell added 15 of her own.

As a team, the Terrapins shot just 37.3 percent from the floor and 28.6 percent from deep, their worst performance of the season. Those numbers were even worse through the first 20 minutes of the game, as Maryland was only able to hit 28.6 percent of its field goals and 16.7 percent of its chances from beyond the arc.

Thanks to an excess in height compared to Delaware, the Terps were able to control the rebounding battle from start to finish. Austin led the way with 13 boards, and Maryland outrebounded the Blue Hens by a 55-46 margin. That discrepancy would have been larger, but Delaware showed a ton of hustle and pretty much outworked the Terrapins.

Maryland had avoided poor starts in the past few games, but perhaps the 10-day layoff allowed some rust to form. Austin scored the first points of the game at the 8:58 mark on a layup, but those two points would be the only addition to the scoreboard for the Terrapins in the first three-plus minutes. They started a poor 1-of-7 from the field, and they turned the ball over three times in the early going.

Delaware jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, but Maryland went on another nuclear run to close out the quarter. Thanks to Jones and Charles, the Terps finished the opening period on an 18-4 run over the final six-plus minutes. That gave the No. 5 team in the country a 10-point lead after a quarter that began quite poorly.

Maryland hit another slump in the second quarter, though. The Terrapins scored the first four points, but it took them nearly three minutes to accomplish that. Following an Austin put-back, they failed to score for the next three minutes. The Blue Hens had scoring issues of their own, which stopped them from cutting into the deficit too much. Even after a couple quick runs to pressure Maryland, they were outscored by a 15-13 margin in the period. Heading into halftime, the Terps held a 35-23 lead.

Maryland found its shooting stroke coming out of the break, as the team improved its shooting drastically from a 28.6 percent clip from the floor all the way up to 45.5 percent. Thanks to a newfound ability to take advantage of the defense’s lapses, the Terps put up 21 points in the quarter, their highest output of the game.

In the fourth, neither team had much success in finding a scoring run, and Delaware continued to be beaten due to a clear disparity in talent. By the time the final whistle blew, the Terrapins had extended its lead to 24 points.

Three things to know

1. Maryland couldn’t shoot, but it didn’t cost them. In their first game as the No. 5 team in the country, the Terrapins shot as poor as they have all season. Delaware’s defense was stingy, but defense doesn’t excuse missed layups and open three-pointers. On the afternoon, Maryland hit just 36.8 percent of its field goals and 28.6 percent of its looks from long-range. The team’s only saving grace was its 72.4 percent shooting from the free throw line.

2. Shakira Austin led the way. After spending the first 10 games of her collegiate career coming off the bench (to great success), Austin was rewarded with her first start against Delaware. She delivered in a big way for Maryland, playing 28 minutes while pouring in a team-high 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks. Not only did Austin pad the box score, but she was extremely efficient as well, shooting the ball at a .667 clip from the floor.

3. Nonconference basketball is over. That’s 11 games played for Maryland outside of the Big Ten, and 11 victories. Now, it’s time for conference play. The Terrapins will get seven days off for the holiday festivities, but once they return, they’ll travel to State College for a matchup against Penn State. Then on New Year’s Eve, the Terps will face off against Rutgers.