College Park — In these typically non-competitive early-season games for the Maryland women's basketball team, coach Brenda Frese frequently is left to nitpick in finding flaws. Take, for instance, a sequence in the second half of Wednesday night's 106-61 win against Maryland Eastern Shore when the Terrapins committed four consecutive turnovers.
The miscues didn't mattered against an opponent that went 12-17 last season and lost in the first round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament. But when sixth-ranked Maryland steps up in class, which it will next week in a Thanksgiving tournament and then the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, such mistakes certainly could become more consequential.
"We always can find a lot of things," Frese said. "First of all, we gave up 61 points. That's way too many points as our competition level increases and what we're going to see in our league and nationally. Our defense has to improve. I wasn't happy with our defense at all. Fifteen turnovers — we had nine at half — that's way too many."
Maryland (2-0) did reach 100 points for a second straight game on the strength of six players, including four starters, in double figures. Senior guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had a game-high 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting with four rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes.
Senior center Brionna Jones was a model of efficiency, as well, with 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting in 16 minutes. She also had eight rebounds as part of the Terrapins' 61-25 advantage in that category. Like Walker-Kimbrough, Jones was a first-team all-Big Ten selection last season in helping Maryland win its second straight regular-season and conference tournament titles.
The Terrapins' stay in the NCAA tournament, however, ended far too abruptly for a program of their stature, especially considering the 74-65 loss to Washington in the second round came at home. That disappointment in part has fueled Maryland, especially its upperclassmen, over the first two games.
"I thought we played together," said Walker-Kimbrough, who made four of five 3-pointers. "I thought Coach called some really good sets in the beginning, and we just took what the defense gave us. I think that's one of the things we have. We have so many weapons."
Included on that list is the top-rated freshman class in the country. Among the first-year players who stood out against the Hawks were guards Sarah Myers, Kaila Charles and Destiny Slocum, and center Jenna Staiti, who had 10 points and game-high 14 rebounds in 10 minutes.
Charles had 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and Myers and Slocum combined for 13 assists with just two turnovers. Myers also had six points and six rebounds.
For Frese, these first few games are providing an opportunity for lineup experimentation.
"You're kind of trying to find and settling in on a group that works and also see some early things in terms of who's ready to play," she said. "I think we'll see that all season."
The Terrapins rolled to a 54-29 halftime lead on the strength of a 21-7 surge bridging the first and second quarters. Sophomore forward Brianna Fraser got it going with a jumper, and Walker-Kimbrough followed with a 3-pointer. By the time freshman guard Sarah Myers scored back-to-back layups, Maryland was in front, 32-17.
UMES (1-1) never got closer than 20 in the second half and shot just 32 percent overall.
"Coach always tell us to be ready when our number is called," said Myers, who did not have an assist in Sunday's season opener. "You never know how long you're going to be out there, and I know there's a lot of great players on our team who can score the ball, so I was just hitting the ones that were open."