Maryland women start slowly in rout

Their shots weren’t falling. Their defense was breaking down. And they were losing to an unranked opponent 14 minutes into Monday’s game.

The Maryland women were in a post-Christmas haze, so coach Brenda Frese called a timeout to organize her team.

Then the 14th-ranked Terrapins dominated the rest of the game en route to a 90-57 drubbing in the Terrapin Classic at Comcast Center.

“At that point, I was disappointed because I thought UNC Asheville was being scrappier getting to loose balls, and we weren’t blocking out,” Frese said. “So I just wanted to refocus and get back to playing Maryland basketball.”

Maryland (10-2) played some of its best basketball of the season despite the absence of leading scorer Kristi Toliver and a poor shooting day by second-leading scorer Marissa Coleman (3-for-8). Toliver was suspended for the game because of a violation of team rules; she is expected to return Tuesday against Mississippi State.

The Terps had 22 assists on 31 field goals. They consistently found holes in UNC Asheville’s 2-3 zone and were rewarded with open looks. Their only hindrance was an array of missed opportunities that resulted in 31.6 percent shooting in the first half, but they recovered and shot 57.6 percent in the second.

“I just think we brought a lot of intensity to the court today,” said sophomore guard Marah Strickland, who finished with a career-high 21 points and 10 rebounds. “We fought through the missed shots and missed layups and played team basketball. We found everybody, and the results followed.”

Freshman Lynetta Kizer added 18 points and nine rebounds, but the highlight of her day came on her lone assist. Maryland was on a three-on-one fast break, and the 6-foot-4 center jumped to corral a high pass and found Strickland open under the basket.

“She might be one of the most unselfish big girls,” Strickland said. “When she’s running the floor, she’s always looking around her, so I knew she was going to find me.”

The Bulldogs led 21-20 before Maryland went on a 13-0 run. It held a 39-28 lead at halftime, then outscored UNC Asheville 51-29 after the break. Sa’de Wiley Gatewood (11), Demauria Liles (10) and Coleman (10) also scored in double figures.

It was the Terps’ first home game in December. They had played four straight road games, which were broken up by finals and Christmas.

“It was a lot of fun how we played,” Frese said. “I was really proud of our energy, our intensity coming back here after Christmas. I think, as we’ve seen, we’re really playing with a lot of confidence and really playing unselfishly.

“When you look at our assist-to-turnover ratio and the fact that we had five players score in double figures, really everything we challenged this team with today they responded to and did a tremendous job.”

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