College Park — Maryland women's basketball guard Kristen Confroy is considered one of the top sharpshooters on her team, but she had been mired in an uncharacteristic slump through the first seven games of the season. She had shot just 3-for-17 from 3-point range over that stretch, including a 1-for-5 performance in the Terps' win at No. 7 Louisville on Thursday night.
There was little to suggest that the junior would find her stroke against UMBC on Sunday afternoon, especially given that fifth-ranked Maryland was coming off a taxing four consecutive games on the road.
But Confroy, like her team, refused complacency and found a way to sharpen edges in a 92-42 win against an overwhelmed local opponent. Confroy hit her first five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 17 points and four assists to spearhead a balanced showing by Maryland, which shot 49.3 percent from the field and had seven players score nine points or more. The Terps made 35 field goals, 29 of which were assisted.
"Being a shooter, you just have to keep trusting the process. Every shot that I've taken, it feels like it's going in, and early in the year, it wasn't," said Confroy, who hit 73 3-pointers as a sophomore. "Obviously it was great to see the ball go in a couple times, and being at home is even better."
Maryland had to fight fatigue after a treacherous stretch that included wins over No. 23 Arizona State and Washington State at the South Point Shootout in Las Vegas late last month, followed by a narrow 78-72 win over Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Thursday.
By the time the team reconvened for practice Saturday, Maryland Coach Brenda Frese already had scripted an intensive session, guarding against any potential of a letdown Sunday against the Retrievers (2-5).
"We just came out in our practice yesterday just really hungry," Frese said.
Frese reminded her team again about it before the pregame, and even though there was fatigue in their eyes, she watched them turn in one of their most mature performances of the year. Maryland also got 11 points and nine rebounds from center Brionna Jones, while guards Destiny Slocum, Ieshia Small, Jenna Staiti and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough each chipped in nine.
Maryland outscored UMBC 17-0 in transition, 39-14 in the paint and received 43 points from the bench, including 10 from Blair Watson. Laura Castaldo led the Retrievers with a team-high 13 points.
"We want to use all of our weapons. … I thought we really shared the basketball, we made the extra pass today to be able to go from a good shot to a great shot," Frese said.
And then there was the outside shooting: Maryland hit 13 of its first 20 shots and its first five 3-pointers to build a 33-12 lead early in the second quarter, and by then Confroy was only starting to heat up. Her third 3-pointer of the day made it 36-12, and she added a pair in the third quarter to help extend the lead to 33 points.
By the time she was ready to come out for good as her team raced toward a 50-point lead, Confroy missed her final two attempts, but her resurgent performance already had been cemented. She finished 6-for-8 from the field in just 17 minutes, looking ready to put her shooting woes behind her as Maryland played its first of four games to come in the next nine days.
"I think so many games in a row gives us the opportunity to not only continue to play to our own standard, but also see how much we can push that wall in terms of fatigue," Confroy said. "Obviously, it's a tough stretch. But being able to push through that wall and then also have our depth come in and show what they can do, it's big for us to grow as a team."