COLLEGE PARK, Md. — By the time the final buzzer sounded and the Maryland and Rutger women’s basketball teams had retreated to their respective locker room Sunday, Maryland had earned a hard-fought victory, 81-70, over a struggling Rutgers team.
But the Terrapins didn’t have the luxury of an offensive cushion for the whole game -- much like the last game when Michigan held leads multiple times throughout the contest — and the Terps were forced to use their bench to finish the job.
Sunday against Rutgers featured a similar type of game for Maryland (19-1, 7-0 Big Ten) — at first. Though Rutgers (6-15, 3-5 Big Ten) held leads during the contest, the Terps’ Shatori Walker-Kimbrough didn’t think fatigue left over from the Michigan game was to blame.
“We just got to be more locked in,” said Walker-Kimbrough, who finished with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting. “We’re always very well prepared in my opinion, but we just got to make sure we execute better. We just got to make sure we come out and throw the first punch.”
Though, the Terps forced the Scarlet Knights to commit a shot clock violation on their first offensive possession of the contest, the teams appeared evenly matched throughout the first quarter.
Maryland turned the ball over five times in the opening frame and held a slim 14-13 lead after one.
“We had an uncharacteristic first half,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “The third quarter was obviously more indicative of how we play.”
The tightness continued through the second quarter; a three by Rutgers’ Aliyah Jeune about halfway through the period gave the Scarlet Knights an 18-16 edge, but three consecutive buckets by Kaila Charles put the Terps back up, 22-18. Charles led the Terps at the half with 10 points and finished with a team-high 18 points.
“It gives you confidence that your teammates are trusting you with the ball,” Charles said. “They were giving it to me when I had a good position and I was able to score off of it.”
Despite a turnover on their first possession of the second half, the Terps regained composure and opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run.
Maryland continued to prevail offensively in the frame and went into the final period with a 60-43 advantage. They extended their lead to as much as 20 with less than six minutes remaining in the game, and were able to comfortably hold on for an 80-71 victory.