FORT WORTH, Texas | TK LaFleur was dribbling the ball in the closing seconds of her first game at TCU when she finally realized the Horned Frogs had upset Maryland.
“In the last 20 seconds, I was in shock,” LaFleur said. “I was like, we’ve just beaten the No. 3 team in the nation.”
LaFleur scored 28 points in the 80-68 victory over Maryland on Friday night in the season opener for both teams. The Horned Frogs led throughout after LaFleur hit the opening shot of the game.
This certainly wasn’t the kind of start Kristi Toliver, a preseason All-American, and the Terrapins wanted after last season, when they went 33-4 and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years.
“Obviously we didn’t come out with that same sense of urgency that they did, and they really capitalized on it,” Toliver said. “It’s an extremely disappointing start. … It’s better that we start the season this way than end it. We’re going to stay as optimistic as possible.”
TCU scored the game’s first 11 points. They opened second half with a 9-0 run, ending any thoughts of a Maryland comeback.
The frustration was evident on Toliver’s face, especially after she dribbled a ball off her foot early in the second half.
For TCU, it was a huge victory to start coach Jeff Mittie’s 10th season as the Horned Frogs matched the highest-ranked opponent they have beaten.
“I didn’t see this win coming, necessarily,” Mittie said, smiling.
LaFleur, a junior who sat out last season after transferring from Nebraska, made 10 of 17 shots, including four 3-pointers. Helen Sverrisdottir added 18 points, Emily Carter 12 and Eboni Mangum 10.
Marissa Coleman led Maryland with 15 points, and freshman Lynetta Kizer had 12 points and 15 rebounds. Toliver finished with 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting.
Sure, it was only one game, but there were a lot of problems in the opener for Maryland, a team depending on three sophomores and four freshmen to surround seniors Toliver and Coleman. The Terps shot only 34 percent (22-for-64) and had 17 turnovers.
“Obviously we showed our youth and lost a lot of poise and a lot of confidence,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Hopefully we’re able to learn from this and be able to move on and get better.”
LaFleur made the opening shot 11 seconds into the game. She hit another basket a minute later, and the Horned Frogs led 11-0 after Micah Garoutte’s jumper with 17:14 left.
Maryland had turnovers on each of its first three possessions without getting off a shot. The Terrapins were 0-for-5 shooting with five turnovers before Kizer made two free throws 3:11 into the game. Toliver and Coleman had two turnovers each in that early stretch.
Toliver’s bounce pass to Drey Mingo in the closing minute of the first half cut it to 33-28. It was Toliver’s third assist of the game and 584th of her career, one more than Debbie Lytle’s school record set from 1980 to 1983.
Rachel Rentschler had a putback of her own miss for TCU before Toliver missed a layup at the buzzer.
As she did to start the game, LaFleur made two quick shots after halftime. Those were both 3-pointers, the second with 18:28 left putting the Horned Frogs up 44-28. Maryland never got closer than 10 after that, even when scoring eight straight points midway through the second half.