Midway through the second half of Friday's Terrapins women’s basketball game, Kristen Confroy drove towards the basket and then kicked the ball out to guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. The sophomore held her follow through until the ball swished through the net on her only three-point attempt of the game.
It was one of the few times Walker-Kimbrough settled for a jump shot Friday night. She routinely sliced through American’s defense to get quality looks underneath the basket and capped the end of the Terps’ fast breaks.
By the time the final buzzer sounded Walker-Kimbrough had picked up her first career double-double to power the No. 14 Terps to a, 94-50, blowout win over American at Xfinity Center.
“It was one of our best games from start to finish,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Our starters set the tone from the tip.”
Frese stressed the need for an improved defensive performance in the practices leading up to the matchup with the Eagles (3-5). And the Terps (8-2) didn’t disappoint in the early going.
Behind a suffocating press and strong man-to-man defense, the Terps held the Eagles to two made baskets on their first 18 attempts from the floor in the opening 11 minutes of the game.
“What separated it was our communication,” Frese said. “You’re seeing that chemistry really come together.”
American guard Ari Booth, who averages 5.6 points per game off the bench, was the only Eagles player to knock down a shot during that span. The junior hit back-to-back 3-pointers to end a 15-0 Terps run to start the game.
While American couldn’t find any holes in the Terps defense, Frese’s squad pounded the ball into the paint at will in the early stages of the contest. The lock down defense created fast-break chances at the other end for Walker-Kimbrough and guard Laurin Mincy, who helped the Terps secure an 18-0 edge on fast-break points
“It started with our defense,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “I like getting out in transition, and I thought we did that early.”
After Booth’s 3-pointers got the Eagles on the board, the Terps responded with another 15-0 run to take a 30-6 lead with 9:41 left in the first half.
Guard Lexie Brown, who entered the contest second on the Terps in scoring, was the main facilitator at the offensive end.
“When I have an open shot, then I’ll take it,” Brown said. “But whoever has the hot hand, I’m going to give them the ball and make sure they stay hot.”
Behind that mentality, the sophomore dished out eight assists — one shy of her career high — in just 23 minutes of action. While Brown helped run the transition offense, she also got the post players involved in the half-court sets, and the Terps finished with a 38-14 edge in the paint.
With a 29-point lead at the break, Walker-Kimbrough picked up where she left off when the Terps took the floor in the second half. The sophomore continued to attack the rim to go 8-for-12 from the floor and earned six free throw attempts en route to her 23-point performance.
Mincy also provided a scoring lift for the Terps. After being recognized at center court for eclipsing 1,000 career points before the game, Mincy dropped in 16 points while pulling down eight rebounds.
Eventually the starters gave way to the reserves to close out the game. And Walker-Kimbrough and company watched from the sidelines as the Terps coasted to a win in their second-to-last non-conference bout.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch our team play when we play like this,” Frese said. “Really good things in terms of moving forward.”