As the shot clock ticked wound down, Maryland women's basketball guard Channise Lewis drove and slung a pass underneath the basket to wide open forward Stephanie Jones, who scored the Terps' first two points of their contest against Rutgers on Thursday.
Jones' layup leveled the game at 2-2 and sparked a 16-2 Maryland run that put the game well out of the Scarlet Knights' reach. The Terps' smallest lead after that was nine points as they won handily, 88-60.
Coach Brenda Frese said the Terps "punched early," with their rebounding (46-26 in Maryland's favor) and passing (25 dimes on 32 field goals) serving as high points in the victory.
"We played hard tonight," Frese said. "I just see our team continuing to keep improving each and every practice and each and every game. We have to continue to be able to have that."
Guard Kaila Charles notched 17 first-half points and finished with 22 points to lead the No. 11 Terps (19-3, 8-1 Big Ten) past the Scarlet Knights (17-7, 5-5 Big Ten). Guard Eleanna Christinaki chipped in 20 points.
Rutgers entered the evening holding its opponents to 55.8 points per game. The most the Scarlet Knights had given up in a contest this season was 78 points.
But the Terps had little difficulty topping that number.
"Moving the ball, finding open teammates, that's a big emphasis that we've had," Charles said. "When we are successful, that's what we're doing, so we just went back to that."
The Terps weren't fazed by Rutgers' early full-court press, continuously knifing through the small gaps and passing the ball away from danger.
Charles usually does her work close to the basket, but the sophomore displayed her range early, knocking down back-to-back jumpers in the first quarter, preventing the Scarlet Knights from backing off her. As the game wore on, she began to drive past her defenders more and more, either finishing in the paint or drawing fouls while opening up her teammates on the perimeter.
The Terps finished with a 59.3 shooting percentage from the field and 77.8 percent from 3-point range, thanks to their early penetration down low.
"We just needed to read the defense and when they're closing to us, pass the ball," Christinaki said. "That's why we had these assists. There's so many good players on our team, which makes it even easier."
With 27 seconds left in the third quarter, Christinaki lobbed a pass three-quarters of the court to forward Stephanie Jones, who finished through contact and completed the and-one.
Jones went on an 8-0 run by herself to end the third, and added Maryland's first bucket of the fourth for 10 straight points. She finished with 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half.
The sophomore said Frese challenged her to be more aggressive on the boards and in the paint, and it paid off.
Charles said any indication Rutgers might come back was quickly thwarted by Maryland's energy as they "shut the door" on the Scarlet Knights.
Now, the Terps embark on a three-game road trip, beginning Sunday at Nebraska as they hit the stretch run of the campaign.
"For me and for us, before tonight, we have eight games to get it right before the postseason," Frese said. "That's what I look at. I don't look at home or on the road, we just have to be the most complete team here in these next eight games to prepare us for March."