Freshman point guard Destiny Slocum had career highs with 25 points and seven assists as Maryland cruised to a 96-64 victory over Niagara on Sunday. The Terrapins scored on seven of their first eight possessions and forced five turnovers in opening the game on a 16-2 run. They led 58-32 at halftime.
“It was really important that the five of us who started came out and set the tone,” Slocum said. “That was our mindset, that we needed to start strong.”
Frese had accompanied All-American honorable mention Shatori Walker-Kimbrough to the Pan-American Games in Toronto last summer and took the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls. She wondered, “Why haven't we ever taken our team up here?” That led to Maryland scheduling its first game at Niagara, and the team visited the namesake falls on Saturday.
“It was sensational,” Frese said.
So were the Terrapins. Brionna Jones and Walker-Kimbrough each chipped in 16 points for Maryland, which failed to score 100 points for the first time this season. Still, the Terrapins were efficient on offense, shooting 53.7 percent while making a season-high 11 3-pointers on 26 attempts (42.3 percent). They assisted on 26 of 36 field goals. It was their second straight game with 26 assists.
“Not completely satisfied, but I thought we were very unselfish,” Frese said. “We let the game come to us.”
Maryland held Niagara to 37.3 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers that turned into 24 points.
Niagara's 64 points were the most allowed by a Maryland opponent this season. Victoria Rampado led the Purple Eagles (1-3) with 24 points and five rebounds.
“Their point guard is one of the best freshmen I've seen in 20 years of basketball,” Niagara coach Jada Pierce said of Slocum.
After winning their first three home games by an average of 55 points, the Terrapins rolled to another blowout win in their road opener. Maryland went 17-2 in road/neutral games last season.
The Terrapins haven't done anything to merit dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since Jan. 12, 2015. They could move up a spot after No. 2 Baylor lost at No. 3 Connecticut, but voters may not penalize the Bears for losing on the road to the four-time defending NCAA champion. Maryland has not played a ranked team yet.
More than half of Maryland's points (49) came from its top-rated recruiting class. Slocum did the most damage, but fellow McDonald's All-Americans Kaila Charles (nine points), Sarah Myers (five), Stephanie Jones (four), Jenna Staiti (four) and Blair Watson (two) all contributed in their first college road game. Charles had seven of Maryland's first 11 points.
Brionna Jones passed Belinda Pearman and moved into 25th on the Terrapins all-time scoring list with 1,286 career points. Jones made 7 of 9 shots, bringing her career field goal percentage up to 63.2 percent. The Big Ten record is 60.8 percent set by Purdue's Camille Cooper from 1997-2001.
Maryland continues its four-game road trip at the South Point Shootout in Las Vegas, playing its first ranked opponent, No. 18 Arizona State, on Friday, and Washington State on Saturday. A showdown with No. 5 Louisville looms on Dec. 1.