It was a welcome sight at Comcast Center on Tuesday night, when a cold driving rain and the impending Thanksgiving holiday were likely factors contributing to a sparse crowd as the Terps faced the St. Joseph's Hawks.
Early in the first half, coach Brenda Frese signaled to her bench, and center Lynetta Kizer rose, peeled off her sweats, and entered the game. The crowd cheered their approval. Kizer was back.
Kizer spent the first three games of the season on the bench while serving a suspension, playing the role of cheerleader as her teammates demolished their opponents in double-digit wins, before finally returning to the court at UMBC on Saturday. A senior from Woodbridge, Va., Kizer's home debut couldn't have gone any better.
In yet another decisive victory, The eighth-ranked Terps blew out the visiting Hawks, 94-71, and are now 5-0. Fittingly, Kizer led all scorers with a career-high 25 points.
"I love how she's approached everything," Frese said of Kizer.
Kizer's line was impressive; an efficient eight-of-11 from the field, including her only three-point attempt, and eight-of-10 from the line. Kizer also pulled down eight rebounds.
"[She's] vocal, has a ton of energy for us, and obviously played big tonight. We had to have that to be successful," Frese said.
Kizer says she still has room for improvement.
"I just wanted to go out and play hard for my team," Kizer said.
"It definitely feels good to be back. Any way I can contribute, as always. The girls worked so hard the first couple of games, any way I can go out and play my hardest, that's what I'm going to do."
Frese was also impressed with Laurin Mincy's line. The sophomore guard scored 14 points on five-of-10 shooting from the floor, had nine rebounds and six assists.
"I was excited about what Laurin did tonight," Frese said. "It shows the kind of depth we have."
Mincy, who rotates between point and shooting guard, is a perfect fit for Maryland's transition game.
"When we're in transition, no team can stop us," Mincy said.
The final score gives the appearance of an easy victory, but Frese called the game a challenge the Terps need in order to improve as the season progresses.
"St. Joe's never quit tonight. Our goal is to sustain our level of play for 40 minutes with no drop off. They just kept coming at us. We got tested tonight."
"It was extremely balanced from our end, a tremendous game for us to be able to build upon. You've got to use your non-conference schedule to prep for your conference games."
Senior guard Anjale Barrett suffered a knee injury during a collision, but Frese indicated it was a minor bone-on-bone injury, and said Barrett was fine.
The Terps will head to Florida for back-to-back games against Florida International and CSU Bakersfield on Friday and Saturday. Frese said she's looking forward to some nice weather.
"We're taking our team to the beach tomorrow," Frese said.
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