College Park, MD — Before they opened their 2016-2017 season Sunday afternoon with a 100-44 win over the UMass Lowell River Hawks, the Maryland Terrapins women’s basketball team took one last look in the rearview mirror.
Junior Kristen Confroy craned her neck up at the XFINITY Center video board as a montage of highlights from the 2015-2016 Terps’ journey through the Big Ten tournament flashed on the screen.
Soon thereafter, Maryland head coach Brenda Frese gave Confroy and the other returning players from last year’s team their Big Ten Championship rings. The crowd cheered, and the players posed for pictures, but then the focus shifted — for good.
The team’s concentration became fixated entirely on the new season and the task ahead in its season opener. Maryland wasted no time jumping out to an early 34-5 first quarter lead, forcing 13 River Hawks turnovers in the opening frame.
Their pace was fast; their defense was aggressive, and their offense was full steam ahead; it was clear the Terps were ready to get the season underway.
“We wanted to come out and set the tone early,” senior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough said. “We want to also set a standard. Coach said one of our game goals today was to just play Maryland basketball — defend, rebound, run.”
Sophomore Brianna Fraser, who averaged four points last season for the Terps, came off the bench to make an impact in the first half, putting up eight points and a rebound in just seven minutes of action. She finished with 14 points and four boards.
“I thought Bri was ready to play today,” Frese said. “She was a great spark off the bench. Especially in the second half, I thought she was really aggressive, and she’s able to...draw fouls to get to the free throw line better than anybody out there.”
Freshman point guard Destiny Slocum also contributed on both ends for the Terps, dishing a game-high six assists to go along with 15 points.
The Terps’ leadership shined as well, primarily through Walker-Kimbrough. The Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, native scored 22 in the Terps’ last matchup with the River Hawks — a Nov. 14, 2015, win — and had no trouble performing similarly Sunday, finishing with 14 points.
The Terps let off the gas a bit in the third quarter, outscoring the River Hawks by just seven points in the period, the smallest scoring margin of all of the quarters.
Going into the final frame, Maryland held a substantial 78-30 lead. The team had no trouble holding off the River Hawks in the end, but Walker-Kimbrough said the Terps need to be able to make the momentum they had in the first quarter last the whole game.
“We did a good job early speeding them up,” she said, “but we’ve just got to make sure we sustain that for 40 minutes and not just off and on.”
Maryland will face off with University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, on Wednesday.