As for the old, reloading with talent is routine for Frese, as is operating with a shorthanded, young roster. And the program is now a quinquagenarian: No. 12 Maryland tipped off its 50th season as a varsity team Friday with a 94-72 win over Davidson at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla.
There’s nothing new about a nonconference win for the Terrapins.
After a first half full of foul trouble that resulted in a three-point lead at halftime, Maryland found the right level of aggression in the second half and settled into a groove on offense that helped carry it to a win.
Wings Diamond Miller, a sophomore, and Angel Reese, a freshman, led the team with 20 points apiece. Reese, who was the No. 2 player in the Class of 2020 and the program’s highest-ranked incoming freshman ever, was one rebound away from a double-double.
“I just played confident,” Reese said. “I wasn’t really nervous, but my teammates just gave me the confidence to come out there and just play my game. I had a rough start. ... I was actually able to play how I play in the second half; everybody got to see that. It was a great feel for my first game, running the court, everything. The college environment, I just love it.”
Call it rust or season-opening jitters, but the Terps were off from long range early, and Miller was the only one to get to the foul line in the first half, when she made 6 of 8 attempts. Maryland relied on its defense and got a spark from Faith Masonius, a vocal, defensive-minded sophomore wing whose 10 points all came at the end of the second quarter.
But the first half wasn’t the best representation of what Freese believes this Maryland team can be. The Terps’ roster has a mix of experience levels — including a starting lineup that featured three newcomers in Reese and senior transfers Katie Benzan and Chloe Bibby — and the second half offered a more enticing glimpse of what their mix of veteran steadiness and potent offense could become.
Benzan, who joined the program this year after three seasons at Harvard, assertively helmed the offense and made 4 of 5 attempts from the field for 11 points in the second half, finishing with 13.
Reese and Miller ran the court with ease; both stand 6-foot-3 and are quick, and they used their long arms to disrupt Davidson on defense. On offense, they slipped to the basket in a flash, outpacing Davidson’s defenders for a bucket or at least drawing contact for a foul. Reese had 16 of her 20 points after halftime and made 6 of 9 tries from the free throw line.
“If you ask me who our two most consistent players have been all [preseason], it’s been those two,” Freese said of Miller and Reese. “They played how they’ve played leading up to this game — I thought, given the opportunity that you were able to see them finally play in the second half, that’s what they were able to do. Now we just need to be able to find a way to keep them out of foul trouble so they can play more minutes.”
Reese, Miller and the rest of their teammates will have a chance to do just that against a pair of ranked teams over the next two days. They play No. 24 Missouri State at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and No. 14 Arkansas at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, each game a chance to develop chemistry and grow accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of this season. Freese pointed out that even little things such as having to put on a mask and take it off before subbing in breaks up the usual rhythm of the game.
“We all just did a great job staying ready and being ready for this opportunity,” Miller said. “We are all really eager to play, and it was really exciting to play our first game. We’re just excited. We just love basketball. We all have that in common, so nothing much is really changing, to be honest.”
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