“I just loved the response out of our team today,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “Obviously after our last game, you kind of want to see what your team is made of, and from the jump, the aggressiveness and the commitment to the glass was an area we really challenged the team with, and I thought they had a terrific response. . . . [The focus on rebounding was] even before that. I don’t know, maybe just seeing that number, minus-24, on the glass was enough for us to kind of be able to take it personally and take the initiative."
In Raleigh, N.C., the Wolfpack outrebounded Maryland by 24 — the last time the Terps were on the wrong end of a rebounding margin that wide was when Notre Dame outrebounded them by 29 in the 2014 Final Four — and held the Terps well below their normal shooting percentage, especially for the second and third quarters. But back in College Park after a couple of days of practice in which Frese placed a heavy emphasis on rebounding drills, Maryland made sure to dominate in the paint.
The Terps (8-2) outrebounded Loyola (1-8) 53-22, though the Greyhounds had far fewer opportunities on the glass with 55 field goal attempts compared with Maryland’s 72. Loyola’s tallest players stand 6-foot-1, giving the Terps a size advantage that created mismatches nearly all over the court but especially for 6-5 sophomore forward Shakira Austin. She led the Terps with 13 rebounds and helped Maryland to a 56-28 scoring edge in the paint.
“We’ve been enforcing all season. For it to drop that low [at N.C. State], we just knew we had to be able to pick it up and make sure we were able to enforce on this game so we can keep it up for the Big Ten,” Austin said.
The sophomore forward also led the team with 25 points, 17 of which came in the second half. Senior forward Stephanie Jones had 20, and senior guard Kaila Charles added 13.
Starting guard Stephanie Karcz led Loyola with 12 points, six rebounds and seven steals. Entering Sunday, she led the country with 5.88 steals per game.
Despite Austin’s and Jones’s dominant efforts, Sunday’s game wasn’t won exclusively in the lane.
Sophomore Taylor Mikesell notched a career-high six three-pointers for 20 points overall. She also had five assists to tie freshman point guard Ashely Owusu for the team high.
A pair of threes from Mikesell spurred Maryland to a quick lead in the first quarter, and the gap ballooned to 30 points shortly before halftime thanks to staunch defense in the second quarter, during which the Terps had a 20-0 run and allowed Loyola to score just seven points.
Austin and Jones then took off after halftime, either slipping through Loyola’s defense for easy layups or spotting up for close-range jumpers. Austin didn’t miss any of her seven shots in the second half, and Jones scored 15 of her 20 points after intermission.
“Shakira played with a higher level of patience and poise. She just kind of slowed herself down in this game and really made the right read and right decision, whether it was playing through contact or making a great assist for a teammate,” Frese said. “I thought Stephanie’s toughness was on display all night tonight. . . . She just took some personal pride and accountability, as a senior, from the last time out, that she wasn’t going to be stopped.
“Now our challenge is doing this against top-10 competition. But you want to be able to see this response, and we’ll be able to — once we get into conference play — have a lot of opportunities."
Maryland now has a 10-day break from games for exams and returns to action on Dec. 18 with an 11 a.m. matchup at Georgia State.