With 5:36 remaining in the fourth quarter of Maryland basketball’s season opener Tuesday, freshman point guard Ashley Owusu gathered an offensive rebound and laid it in off the glass, marking the first time Maryland had scored 100 points in a game in almost two years.
The No. 4 Terps dominated from tip to finish, thumping Wagner 119-56 to start the 2019-20 season 1-0. The 119 points for Maryland are the most scored under head coach Brenda Frese and the program’s highest total since 1992.
Seven of the eight Terps that took the floor on Tuesday finished in double figures, with senior guard Kaila Charles, sophomore forward Shakira Austin and Owusu combining to lead the way with 18 points a piece.
Maryland also nearly doubled up on the Seahawks in rebounds, grabbing 43 to just 20 for their opposition, while forcing 31 turnovers and nabbing 19 steals on the day.
The Terps came out looking to establish themselves as the aggressors on both ends of the floor early on, deploying a full-court press on the Seahawks through the game’s first few minutes of play. Offensively, Maryland was hot behind the arc to start the contest, connecting on five of its 10 first-quarter three-point attempts.
“I thought we set the tone early,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “We came out defensively with just a ton of energy, I thought that first half was one of the better halves we’ve seen when you talk about defensively, in transition, sharing the basketball.”
Maryland finished the first period on a 19-2 run, giving itself a 33-10 lead that it wouldn’t come close to relinquishing as the game went on. The Terps continued to exude their dominance into the second quarter with an 18-3 run that extended its lead by nearly 40 with a little less than half of the period still to play.
Terp guard and reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Taylor Mikesell picked up where she left off last season, setting the net on fire from deep in the first half with 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. The sophomore finished with 14 points and netted her 100th career three pointer.
With four players in double figures at the end of the first half, the Terps held a commanding 68-17 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The offense eventually begin to slow down into the third quarter, although the game was already in hand. After dropping 33 and 35 points collectively in the first and second quarters, Maryland managed 21 third-quarter points on 8-for-16 shooting to extend their lead to 89-37.
“The disappointing part was the third quarter,” Frese said. “I thought we didn’t come out with the same energy and intensity.”
Maryland continued to run it up in the final period of play, with Owusu’s bucket with 5:36 remaining marking the first time the Terps have scored 100 points since 2017. The team added 19 more after that, hitting their highest point total since 1992 and they most they’ve scored under Brenda Frese.
The Terps now have a little less than a week to prepare for their first real test of the season when they host No. 8 South Carolina in one of the premier matchups of the college basketball season. Tip-off for that one is set for 3 p.m., with the game being televised on ESPN.
Three things to know
1. Taylor Mikesell looked improved defensively. For how good the sophomore sharpshooter was in her first season with the Terps, Brenda Frese identified the defensive end of the floor as an area Mikesell could use some improvement in.
And after one game, the initial eye test would say she has. Mikesell made it a mission of hers to get into the passing lanes, totaling three steals on the day, all of which came in the first half.
“[Defending] was a big emphasis even at the end of last year,” Mikesell said. “Just trying to not have anything be able to take me off the court I think that’s the big thing coach was talking about.”
2. Ashley Owusu could see a lot of work as a pick-and-roll initiator. The freshman guard looked like a top facilitator Tuesday, dishing nine assists while adding 18 points. Frese showed willingness to allow Owusu to initiate the pick-and-roll, working in tandem with the likes of sophomore Shakira Austin and senior Stephanie Jones to either get downhill going toward the basket or set up either of the towering forwards with easy looks.
“I just feel very comfortable knowing when I make the right play my teammates are gonna catch the ball and finish,” Owusu said.
3. Maryland’s defense could cause serious problems for other teams this season. Maryland showed a commitment to playing physical defense, pressing Wagner after almost every made basket while showing aggression in their traps. The Terps forced 31 Seahawks turnovers, a strong start for a unit that figures to have capable defenders at every position.