COLLEGE PARK — A late-morning start left the Maryland women's basketball team a tad groggy shortly after tip-off on Friday. An opponent the Terrapins had beaten by more than 60 points last season didn't exactly pique their attention either, particularly with much higher profile games on the horizon.
At the end of the first quarter, for instance, sixth-ranked Maryland, plagued by sloppy ballhandling, led by just five. Coach Brenda Frese's glare from the bench made abundantly clear her disapproval with the Terrapins' five first-quarter turnovers that led to 10 points for visiting Mount St. Mary's.
It wasn't until the third quarter of a 106-42 triumph that the Terrapins began resembling an outfit with aspirations of a third Final Four in four years. Maryland scored 10 in a row immediately after halftime, and when reserve center Jenna Staiti made a layup with 4 minutes, 59 seconds left in the third quarter, the lead was 55-25.
The Terrapins (3-0) had five players score in double figures on field-trip day at Xfinity Center and have reached 100 points in every game this season.
"I thought it took us a little bit, it was early, to wake up," Frese said. "I thought we had a very slow, sluggish start. You could see that in our shot selection. Our shots weren't falling. We weren't as crisp as we normally we are. Too many turnovers, but I thought we did a much better job kind of settling in in the second quarter."
Senior center Brionna Jones finished with game highs of 18 points and 10 points in 18 minutes in a second straight efficient performance. The first-team All-Big Ten selection had 17 points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes during Wednesday's 106-61 win against Maryland Eastern Shore.
Senior guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 10 points and six assists in Maryland's penultimate tune-up prior to next weekend's South Point Shootout in Las Vegas. The Terrapins' face No. 18 Arizona State in the first round of that tournament and on Dec. 1 travel to play No. 5 Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The Terrapins' average margin of victory this season is 55 points, allowing Frese to substitute liberally as she tinkers with lineups for one of the deepest teams in the country. Among the six freshmen in last year's top-ranked recruiting class, three are McDonald's All-Americans.
Another newcomer, guard Ieshia Small, underscored the wealth of options for Frese. In front of an announced crowd of 4,108, the redshirt junior had 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals in 18 minutes one game after collecting only two points.
"I had to learn that you can't keep harping on the past and things that happened before," Small said. Frese "has talked to me about this all the time, that you've just got to let it go and move on to the next play, and I think it started yesterday in practice. I just came out to play today."
Small is among six players on the Terrapins' loaded roster who were McDonald's all-Americans. The redshirt junior sat out last season per NCAA rules after transferring to Maryland from Baylor.
Also reaching double figures on Friday was freshman Kaila Charles, another McDonald's All-American. The guard chipped in 10 points, making five of seven shots, in addition to getting five rebounds and two assists.
Maryland shot 58 percent despite missing 10 of 14 three-pointers. Walker-Kimbrough and junior guard Kristen Confroy, the Terrapins' most reliable three-point shooters, combined to go 0 for 6 from beyond the arc. But Maryland held a 64-20 advantage in points in the paint and 60-24 in rebounding, including 17-6 offensively.
Guard Katrice Dickson led the Mountaineers (1-2) with 12 points. No other Mount St. Mary's player had more than nine.
"We have a lot of weapons on our team," Jones said. "Everybody can come off the bench and score, so I think keeping that up, we're confident, and we're going to keep playing our brand of basketball."