After Kristen Confroy knocked down a three-pointer with her first shot attempt Saturday in Maryland women's basketball's game against Akron near the guard's hometown of Solon, Ohio, she had a chance to add two quick points with a pair of free throws.
She missed them both.
As an 83 percent shooter from the line last year, Confroy joked with coach Brenda Frese that she'd never missed consecutive free throws in her entire career. Following her brief disappointment from the stripe, Confroy settled back in to score 20 more points and haul in nine rebounds, leading No. 15 Maryland to a 75-54 victory over Akron.
"[Missing those free throws] was a little disappointing," Confroy said. "Definitely lighting a fire for fixing that moving forward."
Confroy's performance came in front of a crowd of family and friends about 35 minutes from where she grew up.
It marked the second time this season the Terps (7-2) traveled by design to play an opponent close to the hometown of a player. They played in the Miami Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 24 and 26, giving guards Channise Lewis and Ieshia Small a chance to visit home as well.
On each trip, the team dined with the players' families, which created bonding experiences.
Frese said organizing the trips is a huge priority for the program.
"It's a big piece of who we are as a family," Frese said. "As they sign up to come to Maryland, it's to be able to afford that opportunity to take them back home. Any time we can, going to the dinner at their home and just bringing them back, I think it makes your team closer, to really have that connection."
The trips have ignited strong performances from the players back in their home states.
Lewis tallied a career-high 12 points against Miami on Nov. 26, while Small set a personal best with 23 points in the same game.
Confroy's 23-point total was one shy of her career high, helping the Terps crush the Zips (3-3) and extend their win streak to five games. The senior was especially lethal from long range, making five of seven three-point attempts.
"I need her to think she's back home every time she steps on the court," Frese said. "She just shot the ball with an extreme amount of confidence. She was clicking on all cylinders."
The Zips have two players — guard Megan Sefcik and forward Greta Burry — who played AAU with Confroy for about five years, she said.
The night before the game, Confroy said she and Sefcik texted about guarding each other the next day. Both primarily shooters, she said they were going back and forth about having to take that aspect of the game away from one another.
The experience culminated in a standing ovation from Confroy's supporters as she exited with just over two minutes remaining in the contest.
"It was really cool," Confroy said. "Last night, the team getting to come over to my house and combining my Maryland family and my Solon family, then getting to come here and play two of my AAU teammates on top of it all. It was really fun just to come home and play in this environment."