Home Sports Stifling defense, fierce rebounding force No. 9 Maryland women running away in...

Stifling defense, fierce rebounding force No. 9 Maryland women running away in season opener

The ninth ranked Maryland women's basketball team began the season with an overwhelming Coppin State on Friday night, 93-36, and retired in the first half behind a balanced score, a suffocating defense and aggressively offensive rebounding.

All 10 players in the selection scored for the Terrapins, who won their 10th consecutive season-opener. Maryland improved to 16-0 in home openers at Xfinity Center and lost only one season opener since Coach Brenda Frese took over in 2002-03.

A 15-3 run to finish the first quarter led to a gap of 31-13 and everything except the result of the game in which Maryland had a 71-39 margin in rebounding, including 33-13 offensive, and 34-4 in converting points. The Terrapins forced 20 turnovers while they made eight innings.

"It was great to have so many players on the floor and to be really involved," said Frese. "I think you can see the potential of this team with our veterinarians and our young players and the impact if we grow together as a team.

"You look at our unselfishness, we have assisted more than 66 percent of our buckets, and I liked our offensive rebound."

Attacker-center Shakira Austin collected a game-high 21 rebounds, eight at the offensive end, as Maryland down to a 28-7 margin on second-chance points. The terrapins also used their pronounced advantage in height and length to finish plus-22 at points in the paint.

Austin (Riverdale Baptist) is the center of another highly regarded first class under Frese. The 6-foot-5 McDonald's all-American had a game-high seven blocks and created a formidable low-post presence in a loaded front court.

Traditionally one of the best recovering teams in the country, Maryland also holds firepower of three points range this season, particularly with the arrival of Taylor Mikesell. The 5-11 freshman guard won a national high school three-point shooting competition in San Antonio as a senior.

Mikesell scored 10 of her game-high 18 points in the first quarter when she made two of her first three three-point attempts. The Terrapins brought down four three-pointers in the first quarter with 21 attempts and ended the game 8 of 28 from past the arc.

"They present a certain way I think when they come in," Frese said about the freshmen. "From the end of Shakira and Taylor they were more than prepared and ready because they stepped on campus, along with all the experience they had in the run-up to this time."

Junior Kaila Charles, the most capable all-round player of the Terrapins, had 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The selection of the first team-Big Ten as second year was the leading scorer of Maryland in 2017-18, but Frese has instructed Charles to contribute this season in other ways.

Charles, the Washington Post All-With Player of the Year as a senior at Riverdale Baptist, had two of Maryland's nine pedestals against the Eagles, who shot 25 percent and 5 of 19 (28 percent) of the free-throw line. She was part of Maryland's top-rated recruitment class as a first-year student.

"That is our goal for the whole season, to make everyone play an integral part, because we have so many weapons inside and out," Charles said. "We have to be able to use that so that we as a team can be good and go far."

Junior striker Stephanie Jones, the younger sister of Brionna Jones, the former center of the large fleet, scored 17 points and 12 rebounds, as well as a game-high three-stem.

The comfortable victory also included the first game back for Blair Watson. The junior guard and former McDonald's all-American ripped the ACL in her right knee last January and missed the last 17 games of the season.

"It is a long wait to be back on the pitch," said Watson, who was operated on February 6. "Being in the shadows gave me a different perspective for the game and an appreciation for it, to be back there tonight, it was a bit unreal .. To have some fun with my teammates was very, very special."

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