COLLEGE PARK, Md. — In their third-to-last game of the regular season Wednesday, the No. 2 Maryland Terrapins (26-1, 14-0 Big Ten) used solid first-half defense to allow themselves a huge lead — one from which they never looked back.
The Terps cruised past the Wisconsin Badgers (6-20, 1-12 Big Ten) 89-40 with a game-high 22 points from Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and a double-double from Brionna Jones, 16 points, 11 rebounds.
“This team set the tone,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said after the game. “It started with our defense. We shared the basketball and I thought it was one of our most complete games as a team, collectively.”
Redshirt junior Ieshia Small got the start for the Terps in place of Destiny Slocum, who was out with an illness. Small started a bit cold from the field, going 0-for-2 to open the game, but her teammates — specifically her elder teammates — picked up the slack.
Maryland started the game on an 11-0 run thanks to contributions from their seniors, Walker-Kimbrough and Jones, who had seven and four points, respectively, to make up those first 11. Walker-Kimbrough went five for her first five and also recorded five steals while Jones finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“With Shatori, her closing speed is really hard to mimic in practice,” Wisconsin head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “When she’s able to get deflections you can just see the collective energy of their team defensively step up.”
Some younger Terps, including freshmen Stephanie Jones, Blair Watson and Jenna Staiti, saw time in the first half, partly because of Slocum’s absence but also after an early foul by the elder Jones. Watson finished with 10 points in 21 minutes.
“Blair, I’m not surprised, had a really good practice and played really confident,” Frese said. “The energy from our vets for her was really strong. If we want to be playing three games in three days in the Big Ten tournament, our depth is going to be key.”
Maryland dominated the Badgers on the defensive end in the first half, recording 10 steals and 19 defensive rebounds. The Terps also forced 13 Wisconsin turnovers, which they converted into 17 points, and allowed a mere 14 Badger points.
Frese’s squad refused to let off the gas pedal in the second half, breaking the lead open to as wide as 49 points late in the fourth quarter. They finished with 17 team steals and capitalized on 20 Badger turnovers with 31 points.
Though Slocum, who averages 11.2 points per game, did not drive the Terps’ offense Wednesday, fellow freshman Kaila Charles said Slocum’s absence didn’t affect Maryland too much.
“There was a different feel because we were missing our starting point guard, but I felt like we all stepped up to the plate as a team to make up for that,” Charles said. “I didn’t think it took us long to get in a rhythm. We came out and threw the first punch and then it just went up from there.”
Maryland will travel to Ohio State for a 7 p.m. matchup Monday before ending their regular season against Minnesota Feb. 26.