In its second and final exhibition game, the Maryland women’s basketball team hinted at what could become of this team in the regular season after defeating Clarion 127-41 on Friday night.
The team returns four out of its five leading scorers from last year, yet tonight was all about the freshmen— forward Shakira Austin and guard Taylor Mikesell— who combined for 53 points.
“We wanted to get them a lot of experience in these two exhibition games, and obviously they are extremely talented,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “They’re going to have a tremendous impact on us.”
The substantial lead started to build from the first quarter, and it set the tone for the rest of the night.
The Terps won the tip and quickly gained a 15-point advantage, leading 17-2 before the first media timeout. Mikesell, the freshman guard from Massillon, Ohio, started off strong for the Terps, putting up nine points before the halfway mark of the first quarter.
The Terps had seven scorers after the first quarter, including senior forward Brianna Fraser, who tallied seven points and seven rebounds.
The second quarter told the same story, as the Terps extended their lead to 60-15 at halftime. The duo of Mikesell and Austin led the Terps’ charge, with Mikesell leading the team at the half with 14 points, and Austin with 13 points and seven rebounds.
From the first minutes of the game the Terps intermittently applied full-court pressure, preventing the Golden Eagles from establishing any sort of offense.
“We wanted to come out more aggressively than we did last exhibition game,” Frese said. “I think our defense led to our offense and allowed us to play a 40-minute game.”
Overall, the constant pressure from the Terps’ defense kept Clarion shooting under 20 percent from the field. On the other hand, the Terps were shooting 67 percent from the floor at the half.
Along with the freshmen phenoms, the Terps’ veterans— Fraser, junior forward Stephanie Jones, junior guard Blair Watson and junior Kaila Charles— showed why they went 26-8 last season, combining for 49 points.
Charles, who was named to last year’s All-Big Ten First Team, finished the night with 14 points and six rebounds.
When Charles drove to the basket during the third quarter, she made the layup and drew a foul to give Maryland its largest lead lead over the Golden Eagles, 81-19.
Though Clarion kept fighting, its defense was no match for the Terps’ powerful forwards, specifically Austin, who finished the night going 12-13 from the field.
The Terps passed 100 points just a couple minutes into the fourth quarter, and strong rebounding from Fraser helped extend their lead to 111-30 with just over five minutes to go in the game.
Closing out the game with an 86-point lead, Frese said her team improved upon a lot of areas from the first exhibition game, but needs to see that transfer over when they start playing tougher opponents in the regular season.
And the Terps will open their home schedule Friday as they host Coppin State at the Xfinity Center, tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.
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