Tying a career-high in points, senior forward Brianna Fraser led the Maryland women’s basketball team (9-0) to an 87-63 victory over James Madison (6-2) on Saturday.
Coming off the bench, Fraser recorded 24 points and 11 rebounds, her season-best in both categories. Junior guard Kaila Charles also had a season-high 24 points, previously scoring 23 against Georgia Tech.
“Really proud of the consistency and effort we came out with today,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “Obviously Bri puts our team on another level when she’s locked in as she was today.”
Freshman Taylor Mikesell, who finished the day with 16 points, started off the scoring for the Terps in typical fashion, with a three-pointer, but the contest remained close in the first quarter. At the first under-four minute media timeout, the Terps only held a two-point lead, 13-11.
But Charles, who had six points at the first timeout, scored two quick layups to force a JMU timeout. Charles would finish the first quarter leading the team in scoring, but Mikesell was not far behind with six first quarter points of her own off of two three-pointers.
“That was a really big focus for us in practice this week, getting up and down the court, and you love being able to see that transfer from practice into the games,” Frese said. “We’re so dynamic both outside and inside, so definitely something that we want to continue to carry on with us.”
The Terps held a 11-point lead at the start of the second quarter, 26-15, but had a tough time stopping the Dukes’ junior guard Kamiah Smalls. In the first quarter, Smalls dominated the Dukes’ scoring with 11 points.
Both Smalls and freshman guard Madison Green led the charge for the Dukes with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Maryland continued to rack up the points on JMU’s defense, with key three-pointers from junior guard Blair Watson and Mikesell, who scored her third with just three minutes to go in the half. It was both tough defense and costly mistakes from JMU on offense that kept them scoreless for the last four minutes of the half.
On the other side, the Terps went 14-1 in the second half of the quarter, led by Charles, Watson and Fraser. Fraser’s presence on defense was felt on both ends of the court, aiding in the defense that recorded 26 defensive rebounds and 19 turnovers.
“I think I think I just came out ready,” Fraser said. “My teammates gave me a lot of confidence to just come out and play my game.”
Though the Terps and Dukes took about the same number of shots in the second half, 30 for JMU and 33 for Maryland, the stifling Maryland defense forced the Dukes to make some tough, contested shots.
The Dukes’ scoring drought ended at the beginning of the second half, as Green sunk a three-pointer within the first minute. Junior guard Devon Merritt, who only scored two points in the first half, came out in the third quarter to score five quick points.
Watson finished with 10 points but was all over the court disrupting the Dukes. At the start of the fourth quarter, Watson had seven points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals. Fraser, coming off the bench for Charles, had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Maryland had 42 points in the paint to JMU’s 22, as well as 21 fast-break points at the end of the third quarter.
With under three minutes remaining in the game, Fraser returned to the bench with her season-high in points and rebounds, and her first double-double of the season.
“I told her I think that’s the best game of her career,” Frese said. “I’m excited for what is to follow, because this is who Bri is… for her to understand how valuable she is to our team and makes us better. She put her head down and went to work.”
Maryland will have a quick turnaround for their next game, when they host Loyola on Monday at 11 a.m.
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