After a pair of relatively demanding games against opponents from Power 5 conferences, the seventh-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team blunted any need for drama down the stretch Sunday by pulling away in the first half of a 92-61 win against visiting UMBC.
The Terps remained undefeated thanks to another typically robust interior performance. With an overwhelming advantage in height, length and depth along the front line, Maryland held a 50-18 margin in points in the paint, a 20-1 advantage on second-chance points and a 44-28 rebounding disparity at Xfinity Center.
Every member of the roster scored for Maryland, which received 45 points from reserves and played for the first time since dispatching visiting Georgia Tech, 67-54, Thursday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. One game before that, the Terps beat Georgia, 58-51, to win the Puerto Rico Classic over Thanksgiving break.
Maryland (8-0) has an average margin of victory of 28 points this season, with its only result in single digits coming against the Bulldogs.
“I thought we got a lot of valuable minutes today from the bench, being able to have every player come in and score and really be able to extend the lead,” coach Brenda Frese said.
The decisive stretch unfolded early in the second quarter when the Terps embarked on a 17-0 run, getting six points in that push from Stephanie Jones (Aberdeen), all coming off baskets after her own offensive rebounds. The junior forward contributed a team-high 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Frese used just one timeout during the game, calling it early in the third quarter after the Retrievers had trimmed the deficit to 20 points. Minutes later, Maryland stretched the margin to 73-43 courtesy of a 13-3 surge featuring two 3-pointers from reserve guard Sara Vujacic, a native of Slovenia.
The junior college transfer in her first season with the Terps scored 10 of her career-high 13 points in the second half, during which Frese was able to substitute liberally as she continues to fine-tune her rotations for the start of Big Ten competition late this month.
The younger sister of former NBA player Sasha Vujacic, a first-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004, Vujacic went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc and added three assists and two steals in a season-high 26 minutes.
“I’ve just got to stay ready,” Vujacic said. “I’ve just got to trust my coaches and my teammates.”
She also was among a handful of first-year players for Maryland who Frese leaned on in yet another game against a team from the District of Columbia, Maryland or Virginia. The Terps face six such opponents during their nonconference schedule this season.
Freshman center Shakira Austin had 15 points off the bench and a game-high 11 rebounds. The McDonald’s All American has four double doubles this season and leads the country in blocks (51) as well as total rebounds (100).
“I think it just helps them get more experience, just playing and getting a feel for the flow of the game,” Jones said of Maryland’s bench players. “Just getting more reps and competing every day before we get into Big Ten play.”
Guard Taylor Mikesell, another freshman, was 3-for-6 from beyond the arc on her way to 11 points. Mikesell won a national 3-point shooting contest in San Antonio as a senior in high school and was one of three Maryland players on Sunday with at least four assists.
The Terps finished with 24 assists on 34 made field goals. They committed 12 turnovers, but UMBC managed to convert them into just two points.
Dominika Shrocka led the Retrievers with a game-high 18 points, shooting 6-for-7 from 3-point range. UMBC shot 12-for-28 (42.9 percent) from beyond the arc.
“Third quarter, obviously we need to improve,” Frese said. “I thought it was a really slow start for us. That’s an area that we’ve got to be able to clean up, but I thought we played harder, more aggressive [after the timeout]. I thought Sara V was big with her 3s today and shooting the ball with confidence.”