COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP)A loss and a stressful victory earlier in the season helped make Maryland a better team moving forward.
Wasting no time in taking control against Quinnipiac, the ninth-ranked Terrapins built a big lead early and rolled to a 107-52 victory Sunday.
Maryland (5-1) led 24-7 after the first quarter and by 21 at halftime in its fourth straight victory.
Two weeks earlier, the Terrapins plodded through a 63-54 defeat at home against then-No. 9 South Carolina. Maryland then squeezed past James Madison by two points after trailing by 19 in the fourth quarter.
Coach Brenda Frese and her players reacted accordingly.
”The great thing about this team is they’re hungry and they’re humbled,” Frese said. ”I think both those games have really impacted us.”
The Terps followed the loss with three straight blowout wins, quickly ending any suspense by taking charge at the outset. Maryland outscored Delaware, George Washington and Quinnipiac in the first quarter by a collective 76-26 score.
”You can take a lot of team’s will out early when you have those kind of starts,” Frese said. ”I just love seeing the growth of our team.”
Against Quinnipiac, Shakira Austin scored all 16 of her points in the first half. The 6-foot-5 went 7 for 8 from the floor and grabbed seven rebounds to help Maryland finish with a 41-31 advantage on the boards.
Six players scored in double figures for Maryland, including freshmen Ashley Owusu with 19 and Diamond Miller with 17. The taller Terrapins had 56 points in the paint compared with 16 for the Bobcats.
”We definitely realized from the jump they don’t have the height to stop us inside,” Austin said.
Cur’Tiera Haywood led Quinnipiac (1-3) with nine points. The Bobcats have reached the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons but are off to a slow start in coach Tricia Fabbri’s 25th season at the school.
Fabbri used 10 players in the first quarter trying to find the right combination and get a feel for her team before the three-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference defending champs begin league play.
”This is what this program has been built on for years and years, playing games like this,” Fabbri said. ”A huge opportunity, but with that opportunity comes a bigger challenge.”
Quinnipiac opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, then missed its next six shots while Maryland got points from four different players in a 15-0 run.
A layup by Shaq Edwards ended the Bobcats’ cold streak, but the Terrapins answered with a 9-0 burst for a 24-5 lead.
It was 45-24 at halftime, and the Terrapins began the third quarter with a 16-0 run to up the margin to 37. Maryland outscored the Bobcats in the period 33-4.
Quinnipiac has been dominant in the MAAC, but against Big Ten power Maryland the Bobcats were out of their league.
Maryland has clearly distanced itself from the loss to South Carolina and understands the benefit of a fast start. If the Terps keep playing like this, a climb within the top 10 is sure to follow.
Stephanie Jones scored nine points to become the 34th women’s player in Maryland history to reach the 1,000-point mark. She has 1,002.
”It was a relief, because I knew it was coming and it was in the back of my head,” Jones said.
Quinnipiac hosts Harvard on Saturday.
Maryland heads south to face Clemson in the Daytona Beach Invitational on Friday, followed by a matchup against Belmont on Saturday.
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