Maryland Women Run Away From Depleted Spartans

The Maryland Lady Terrapins were picked to win the Big Ten Conference, even though this season is their first in the conference. While they’ve been proving the coaches and media right so far this season, they got off to a less-than-stellar start against a struggling team.

The Michigan State Lady Spartans came into College Park on Jan. 22 with a record of 9-9 overall, but just 1-6 in the Big Ten. Four out of their five normal starters were out with injuries, and the team was only dressing seven players. Michigan State hit two of their first three shots, while Maryland missed their first three to fall behind 5-0 just a minute and a half into the game. Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said the Spartans took it to her team early.

Maryland's Laurin Mincy goes up against a Michigan State defender for a layup during their game Jan. 22 at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md.  Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics.
Maryland’s Laurin Mincy goes up against a Michigan State defender for a layup during their game Jan. 22 at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md.
Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics.

“I thought they came in and were really aggressive, took it to us rebounding-wise to start the game,” Frese said.

Meanwhile, Terps guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had to briefly take a seat on the bench after taking a hit to the face that left her with a bloody nose and blood on the court. After Aerial Jones hit a three to give the Spartans an 11-7 lead with 14:08 left in the first half, Maryland got going and started imposing its will.

Laurin Mincy made a pair of layups, and Brionna Jones made a jump shot after rebounding her own miss during an 8-0 run to give Maryland a 15-11 lead with 11:22 left in the half. The Terrapins also started forcing the Spartans to take a lot of time on their possessions, keeping them out near the center circle late into the shot clock and forcing them to rush up shots before the shot clock expired. Maryland forced two shot clock violations in the first half. Leading by three with five minutes left, the Terps defense stiffened even more, going on a 12-4 run to take a 37-26 lead into halftime. At one point during that stretch, Maryland hit six straight shots and forced four turnovers.

The Terrapins didn’t miss a beat coming out of halftime. Maryland went on a 10-4 run to take a 47-30 lead when a media timeout was called with 15:47 left in the second half. The lead only grew from there. Maryland pulled out to a 32-point lead, and cruised to an 85-56 win to improve to 16-2 overall, and 7-0 in conference. Mincy finished with 17 points on seven of 13 shooting to lead five players in double-figure scoring. Lexie Brown added a dozen points with seven assists, and Brionna Jones also had a dozen points to go with six rebounds. That was enough to overcome a game-high 28 points and 16 rebounds by Powers. Maryland shot 52.9 percent from the floor in the second half, and 50 percent for the game, thanks in large part to 46 points in the paint. The Spartans missed 12 out of their last 14 shots, and shot just 26.7 percent from the floor in the second half. Frese liked how her team was sharing the ball.

“I really liked obviously how we shared the basketball tonight. When you talk about our lowest in terms of turnovers…I thought we were extremely unselfish, made easy plays for each other offensively, which made the game open up for everybody,” Frese said at the beginning of the postgame press conference about her team’s 21 assists on 33 baskets to just nine turnovers. Frese explained how Maryland used its depth to overpower Michigan State.

“To be able to send waves in this game I thought was really important where we could wear Michigan State down. That’s going to be a big plus for us moving forward is to be able to continue to use the depth that we have,” Frese said. Getting stops on defense continues to be the key for Maryland.

“I think when we get stops to transition, and really get going, we kind of feed off of that…I think when you talk about how unselfish our guard play is right now, looking for each other in transition inside really opened it up for us,” Frese said. As it turns out, when her team gets rolling, it’s fun for her players.

“I feel like we have our best runs when we’re having the most fun,” Brown said. “So when we start playing all 40 minutes like that, then we’re going to be scary.”

Maryland will travel to Indiana on Jan. 25, and then play 20th-ranked Iowa on Super Bowl Sunday at home, where they’re now 10-0 on the  season.

Maryland women’s basketball win at Coppin State, 110-51

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 17 points in Maryland's final non-conference game at Coppin State.  Photo Credit: University of Maryland Department of Athletics.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 17 points in Maryland’s final non-conference game at Coppin State.
Photo Credit: University of Maryland Department of Athletics.

The Maryland Lady Terrapins (number 14 in AP poll, number 11 in coaches’ poll) made a trip up to Baltimore to play the Coppin State Lady Eagles for their final nonconference game before kicking off their first Big Ten regular season against Ohio State. The Terps got off to a fast start and made it stand up all the way to the end.

Head Coach Brenda Frese’s squad jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes of the game, and kept pulling away from there on the way to a 110-51 win at the Coppin State University Physical Education Complex on Dec. 21. Maryland (9-2) led 59-25 at halftime, thanks to 61.1 percent shooting from the floor in the first half, and 22 points off 17 Coppin State turnovers. Maryland went on a 15-4 run in the first 4:46 of the second half to extend their lead to 74-29. Maryland shot 58.1 percent for the game, while holding the Eagles (1-9) to 39.2 percent. Frese said it was defense that was the theme of the day for Maryland.

“From the tip, we set the tone I thought with our defense and our transition…I think we’re playing some of our best basketball right now,” said Frese. She added that the game was a good final tune-up before heading into conference play.

“This is where you want to kind of be climbing to. We just came off of finals, and to be able to see that we didn’t have a lot of rust, given the break of a long stretch, gives us a lot of confidence heading into conference play,” Frese said. The Terps were able to crisply move the ball down the court when they got the ball, using crisp passing and effective cuts to the basket for layups. The Terps also used drives to set up wide open looks for Brene Moseley and Laurin Mincy on three-pointers. One thing Frese said the team worked on in practice during the break for finals was sharing the ball.

“It was something we’ve really been working on, in terms of making that extra pass and being unselfish, and I thought we executed really well,” said Frese.

While the Terrapins jumped out to a big lead early, sophomore guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough says the team tries to continue executing and playing its game.

“We always say, ‘Just play Maryland basketball,’ and that’s defend, rebound and run,” said Walker-Kimbrough, who had 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. “We don’t want to play the score. We just want to continue to play within ourselves, and play Maryland basketball.” Coppin State made two out of just three three-point attempts, and didn’t even shoot a three in the second half.

“I think we locked down the three pretty well tonight,” said Moseley, who finished with 18 points and eight assists. “And I think that opened up a lot, so as that opened up a lot, that kept the post players wide open, and we got a lot of dish-downs.” Moseley said that being able to drive to the basket and kick the ball out to shooters led to Maryland’s 23-13 assist-to-turnover ratio in the game. She also said Maryland’s transition game opened things up for the rest of the offense.

“I think we just ran hard. I think our transition got us a lot of things that were open, so our guards running hard and our posts screening down got a lot of stuff going that we got a lot of easy shots early,” Moseley said.

Coppin State committed 29 turnovers, and Maryland scored 39 points off turnovers. The Terps outscored the Eagles 54-16 in the paint, and had 25 second-chance points. Maryland finished with a 44-28 rebounding advantage.

The game marked a homecoming for redshirt freshman forward A’Lexus Harrison, who attended Digital Harbor High School in Federal Hill. She says it was “a big step” for her to be able to play against a school in her hometown.

“I think to come back and play was just really fun. I have a lot of friends on the (Coppin) team, and it was really just a lot of fun, honestly, just to play against a lot of my friends and actually be back home,” said Harrison, who had 12 points and eight rebounds. She said while it’s important to play every game with the same mindset and put the same amount of effort in, it was still fun to be able to play in front of a home crowd.

Frese said her players dedicated the game to Theo Stipich, a longtime Lady Terps supporter and season ticketholder who’s been battling lung and brain cancer. Frese said the players sent him a letter saying that they’d come out ready to play and keep him in their minds.