College Park, MD — With the commitment of six freshmen over the summer, the Maryland Terrapins women’s basketball team’s roster grew substantially within a short amount of time.
But it’s more than just the simple addition of six players that gives this year’s Terps an edge: It’s the addition of these six players.
Before their time at Maryland, three of the newest Terps — Kaila Charles, Destiny Slocum, and Blair Watson — were named McDonald’s All-Americans, and the other three — Stephanie Jones, Sarah Myers and Jenna Staiti — were nominated.
That abundance of talent leaves head coach Brenda Frese with a plethora of options when it comes to choosing whom to start and who to use off the bench.
“We obviously have a lot of scoring power on this roster, [and] you can see that in terms of our different rotations,” Frese said.
For Sunday’s game against the Mary Baldwin Fighting Squirrels, Frese opted to mix experience with youth, tapping Charles and Slocum to start alongside seniors Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones, as well as junior Kristen Confroy.
That arrangement, of course, left space for Watson to come off the bench, and that she did about halfway through the first quarter.
Watson quickly made her presence felt with a rebound and put-back layup, which she then followed with a three to give the Terps a 30-2 lead. She finished with 17 points and six steals.
By the time the first quarter had expired, 11 Terps had seen the floor; Mary Baldwin only had eight athletes on its entire roster.
Of those 11 to play for Maryland in the first quarter were five freshmen, who combined for 20 points in the period.
The Terps closed out the first half the same way they did in their Nov. 2 win over Bluefield State, with a Staiti layup at the buzzer, but this time, as the clock ran out and the rest of the team swarmed Staiti at midcourt, Maryland held an 84-14 lead.
“These exhibitions, they give our kids the experience of a game day more so than a close scrimmage,” Frese said. “Just putting on the jersey, playing in front of our tremendous fans, it’s really, really valuable for us.”
Maryland continued to control the game in the second half, led predominantly by its younger players. In the third quarter, Staiti led all scorers with seven points.
Staiti continued to ride her momentum into the fourth quarter; she went to work inside to rack up 18 more points, bringing her total to a game-high 25.
“Early on we started missing layups,” Staiti said. “I think once I started focusing; I totally changed the second half.”
The use of the team’s reserves allowed four of Maryland’s starters the opportunity to rest for the entire fourth quarter, and even with their leaders on the bench, Maryland was able to keep the game well out of reach of the Fighting Squirrels.
With a final score of 153-27, the Terps may not have necessarily needed the full power of their bench’s depth Sunday, but Frese said that as the Terps’ competition stiffens, that depth will become all the more important.
“Our depth is going to be huge,” Frese said. “That’s why we need to continue to keep everyone in great shape, continue to wear opponents out...and continue to really work on getting better every time we step out on the floor.”
The Terps open up their regular season on Sunday, Nov. 13, against UMass Lowell.