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Maryland women’s basketball opens NCAA Tournament with 73-51 win over Radford

The No. 3-seed Terps are moving on.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament- Maryland vs Iowa Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, No. 3-seed Maryland women’s basketball is on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 73-51 win over No. 14-seed Radford on Saturday in College Park.

It wasn’t always easy, as the Highlanders shook off a slow start to cut the deficit to four points in the second quarter thanks to their three-point shooting. But a 9-0 run to close out the first half gave the Terrapins a 13-point lead at the break, and they pulled away in the second half for the blowout victory.

Taylor Mikesell has had a terrific freshman season to this point, and against Radford, she stole the show. The first-year guard drained four triples en route to a 16-point outing to lead all scorers, breaking the program single-season record for three-pointers in the process.

Stephanie Jones has been a rock for the Terps all season long, and on Saturday she showed why she’s so dependable. The junior forward started strong right out of the gates, scoring 12 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting in the first half. Kaila Charles didn’t take control like in the Big Ten tournament, but she was relied upon to score when needed, finishing with 14 points. And Shakira Austin seemed to have an improved sense of confidence, bullying her way inside for 11 points and nine rebounds.

Maryland didn’t shoot exceptionally well, but it was good enough for the sizable victory. The Terps made 47 percent of their field goals—and just 5-of-15 three-pointers and 6-of-11 free-throws—but Radford made just 29.7 percent of its shots and 26.1 percent of its triples. The Terrapins also won the rebounding and turnover battles 45-40 and 17-13, respectively.

It took Maryland five field goals and two free-throw attempts to get on the board to start the game, but once Kaila Charles hit a jumper 90 seconds into play, the Terrapins never looked back. They never trailed, and Radford never so much as tied the score the rest of the way. Maryland began the tournament on an 8-0 run, and when Radford finally got on the board with a pair of free throws just over four minutes into the game, the Terps responded with another 8-0 run to take a 16-2 lead at the 4:28 mark of the first quarter.

After cutting the deficit to 18-9 to end the quarter, the Highlanders continued to shoot lights out from beyond the arc to expose Maryland’s weak perimeter defense. Within the first five minutes of the second period, Radford drilled three triples—two from Walker—to cut the score to 24-20. But the Terps closed the final 5:13 on a 9-0 run to give them all the momentum heading into the break.

Once the third period began, Maryland continued its dominance. It started the second half on a 10-2 run to grow the lead to 21 points, and after Kaila Charles hit a midrange jumper with two minutes to go in the third quarter, the Terps held a lead of at least 20 points for the rest of the game. A 13-4 run closed out the period, and they continued to outpace the Highlanders in the fourth quarter to finish with a 22-point margin of victory.

Three things to know

1. Maryland is moving on. With the win over Radford, the Terrapins have survived the first round of the NCAA Tournament again. Brenda Frese is now 15-0 in opening games. It’s unclear who the opponent will be just yet—Tennessee and UCLA are set to play Saturday afternoon—but the Terps will be back in action on Monday for a chance to head to Albany for the Sweet 16.

2. Stephanie Jones bounced back. It was a rough showing for Jones in the Big Ten title game against Iowa, as she scored just four points while fouling out. But against an undersized Radford team, she dominated inside to the tune of 12 first-half points on 6-of-6 shooting to get out to a double-digit halftime lead. Foul trouble kept her from doing much in the second half, but due to her early performance, she wasn’t needed late.

3. Taylor Mikesell made history. It’s been a fantastic debut season for Mikesell, who earned first-team Big Ten All-Freshman honors and was named the coaches’ Freshman of the Year. But against Radford in her first NCAA Tournament game, Mikesell placed herself in Maryland’s record books. With a three-pointer at the 3:08 mark of the third quarter—her second of the game to that point—she broke the program’s single-season record of 91 triples previously held by Kristi Toliver since the 2008-09 season. After her performance on Saturday, Mikesell now has 94 on the year.