Before facing Loyola (Maryland) on Monday, the Maryland women's basketball team had won each of its past three contests by at least 21 points. The squad showed no signs of slowing down against the Greyhounds.
Already leading by double digits after the first quarter, the No. 15 Terps poured in 32 second-quarter points to pull away. Thanks to a stellar 61.3 percent shooting effort from the field, Maryland coasted to its eighth straight victory, defeating Loyola, 114-45.
"It is fun with this group," coach Brenda Frese said. "It feels like whatever we find as a weakness, they turn it into a strength. We can do some really big things if they keep having that mentality of staying humble and hungry. That's where they've been and you're really starting to see the trend of this team coming together."
Guards Kaila Charles and Blair Watson dominated for Maryland (10-2) in the second quarter following slow starts.
Charles was called for a foul on Loyola's second possession of the game, forcing her to exit less than two minutes into the contest. She didn't re-enter until 24 seconds remained in the first quarter, failing to score in the opening frame. Watson, meanwhile, contributed five points in the first.
But Charles and Watson, who are two of the Terps' four leading scorers, came out firing in the second quarter. Charles made a layup at about three minutes in, marking the start of a run in which she scored eight of the team's next 10 points. She finished with 12 points in the quarter.
Watson tallied three assists in the second quarter before going on an 10-0 run by herself in the final two minutes of the half. She combined with Charles to register 22 of the team's 32 second-quarter points as the Terps went into halftime leading the Greyhounds (2-8), 54-20.
"I just thought we continued to make easy plays, one extra, one more, attacking to kicks," Frese said of the onslaught.
With the game in control, the Terps continued to dominate. Maryland reached the century mark in points for the second time this season.
The Terps capitalized in transition throughout the contest, forcing 24 turnovers to help lead to 29 fast break points. Meanwhile, the Terps committed a season-low six turnovers. When Frese saw they had just three at halftime, she thought it was a misprint.
Watson led Maryland with a career-high 24 points, and five players scored in double digits as the team set a single-game program record with 37 assists.
Freshman point guard Channise Lewis contributed a career-high 11 of those assists. After turnovers had stagnated Maryland's play at times this season, Lewis' strong showing led Frese to say it was her best game this season.
"I feel way more comfortable now than I did at the beginning of the season," Lewis said. "As the game keeps on progressing, the team is making it easier for me to get them the ball…the process is going. I'm getting better at it, it's just going to take more practice."
Frese said the Terps have been stressing more well-rounded play on both ends of the floor. In their past two contests, Frese said, the Terps have taken "a major step forward" in that department.
Guard Ieshia Small, who added 13 points and seven rebounds, agreed on a larger scale.
"We're not the same team that we were in the first game of the season and we're getting better each day," Small said. "I'm just excited to see what we bring to the table when conference [play] does start, just to see the growth."