COLLEGE PARK — The Maryland women's basketball team practiced patience in the first half Sunday afternoon against Rutgers, an opponent bent on slowing the pace to counter the Terps' frenetic attack.
The payoff during an 80-71 victory came in the third quarter, when No. 3 Maryland made eight of its first nine field-goal attempts to open a 21-point lead. The margin never again fell below double digits until less than a minute remained in the Terps' seventh straight win overall and fifth in a row against the Scarlet Knights.
"My least favorite style of play," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said of Rutgers' tempo. "It's like going to the dentist and getting drilled. We love the up-tempo, transition, let's-play type of style. Credit to them in the first half. I thought they did a phenomenal job in terms of running out with their style of play, but we were able to punch that open in terms of what we wanted to do in the third quarter."
Freshman guard Kaila Charles' 18 points led four players in double figures for Maryland (19-1, 7-0), which remained in first place in the Big Ten Conference as the only school without a league loss.
Senior guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had 17 points, and senior center Brionna Jones (Aberdeen) added 11 on 5-for-8 shooting with a game-high 13 rebounds for her 10th consecutive double double, extending her career-long streak. The two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection anchored the Terps' supremacy inside, helping Maryland own a 40-24 rebounding advantage.
The Terps are second nationally and first in the Big Ten in rebounding margin. Rutgers (6-15, 3-5) is last in the conference.
The decisive 21-4 run for Maryland unfolded in the first six minutes after halftime. Charles got it started with a layup, and freshman point guard Destiny Slocum (11 points, career-high 11 assists) added a 3-pointer shortly thereafter to put the Terps ahead, 39-30.
After Rutgers forward Desiree Keeling made a layup, Maryland scored the next 11 in a row, beginning with two free throws from Walker-Kimbrough. Charles' turnaround jumper made the score 43-32, leading to a timeout from longtime Scarlet Knights coach C. Vivian Stringer.
Charles sank a layup out of the stoppage, Walker-Kimbrough swished a 3-pointer, and by the time she scored on a driving layup, Maryland was ahead 55-34 with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
"I thought they did a good job in the first half," Walker-Kimbrough said of Rutgers. "At halftime, Coach told us: Don't be surprised if we have open jumpers."
The Terps shot 77 percent (10-for-13) in the third quarter and finished at 52 percent for the game. They also committed just one turnover in the third quarter. Maryland had 18 turnovers overall, tied for its fourth most this season.
The Terps led 34-30 at halftime, matching their second-lowest scoring first half of the season. Their largest lead of the half was 28-21, spurred by a 12-3 push featuring six straight points from Charles.
"Kaila Charles was fabulous for us in terms of keeping us in it," Frese said.
The Scarlet Knights managed to stay within reach in the first half thanks to an unlikely source, Jazlynd Rollins (career-high 15 points). The junior guard made three 3-pointers during the second quarter after entering the game having gone 4-for-22 this season from beyond the arc.
As a team, Rutgers came in ranked last in the Big Ten in 3-point field-goal percentage (.295), but it made five of seven during the first half. The majority of those 3-pointers came with the shot clock down to single digits.
Junior guard Shrita Parker led Rutgers with 17 points and seven assists in the Scarlet Knights' fourth loss in five games.
"Maryland got much more serious" in the second half, Stringer said. "I think they may have thought we were going to lay down. For whatever reason, we're playing not to lose. Maryland is an outstanding team and deserves to be one of the top four teams in the country, period."