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State women's basketball (Dec. 28): Terps blast Illinois in Big Ten opener

Kaila Charles has been a pillar for the No. 15 Maryland women's basketball team, scoring in double figures in every game this season. But with the Terps winning so many games by blowout, the sophomore guard has been content to do her work quietly in the background.

In Thursday night’s Big Ten opener, Charles took charge, pushing the energy from the opening tip and dominating on both sides of the ball in a 100-65 win over Illinois before an announced 7,346 at Xfinity Center.

Charles had a game-high 24 points to go with 10 rebounds and a season-high six assists as Maryland (12-2) led by 15 after the first quarter and never looked back. It was Charles’s first 20-point game since the Terps’ 75-54 win over Akron on Dec. 2.

“Kaila makes us go,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “That’s why she heads our defense. You’ll see that energy in our press and she is a matchup nightmare when you talk about both ends of the floor. On the offensive end I really think she took the game and what came to her. That’s what she can do every night.”

The 6-foot-1 guard was one of five Terps in double figures as Maryland won its 10th straight, the past six by at least 20 points. Illinois fell to 9-6, 0-1.

Maryland sophomore forward Stephanie Jones (Aberdeen) recorded her second double double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds and sophomore guard Blair Watson had 22 points, including six 3-pointers, and a career-high eight rebounds.

“I feel like when we lock in and we bring that energy and effort you see us play our best game,” Charles said. “We were just locking in on our defense and trying to force turnovers and score off those turnovers by pushing the ball.”

Watson stepped up in the second half, hitting five 3-pointers.

“This is who she is,” Frese said. “Last year, unfortunately she came in after shoulder surgery and never got to be able to get into that kind of rhythm all season, and this is how well she was able to shoot out of high school, and you are seeing her abilities now.”

Senior guard Kristen Confroy made her 173rd 3-pointer in the second quarter, moving to No. 3 on Maryland’s all-time list. The Terps’ next play on the road against Penn State on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Morgan State 65, UMass-Lowell 59: Lexus Spears scored 21 points to lead the visiting Bears (7-6) past the River Hawks (3-9).

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Morgan State trailed by four to start the second quarter, but went on a 23-13 run to take the lead. The Bears led by as many as 12 points.

East Carolina 64, UMES 54: Alexus Hicks had 11 points, but the visiting Hawks (3-9) lost to the Pirates (8-5).

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Baltimore Sun staff contributed to this article.

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