The young Terps shot 50.7% from the floor and out-rebounded Gallaudet 54-24, led by freshman forward Alyssa Thomas, who earned her first double-double of her college career with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Laurin Mincy and junior center Lynetta Kizer also scored in double digits, contributing 10 points each.
The teams highly advertised improved conditioning was immediately evident, as the Terps converted 18 fast break points from 22 Gallaudet turnovers. The Terps were also able to enjoy the benefits of their drastic height advantage, capitalizing on the 10 players on the roster that are 60 or above and tallying 56 points in the paint; Gallaudet listed only one player at 60 and recorded only 6 points in the paint. As a result of this dramatic advantage, the Terps grabbed 23 offensive rebounds and were able to earn 20 second chance points.
The Terps took the lead early, going on an 8-0 run in the first 3:18 and steadily extended that lead to 42-15 going into halftime. Although Coach Frese started the game with veterans Lynetta Kizer, Anjale Barrett, Kim Rodgers, and Diandra Tchatchouang, the early lead and large scoring margin allowed for frequent substitutions, and every member of the team was able to play for at least five minutes. Four out of the six freshmen - Natasha Cloud, Alicia DeVaughn, Laurin Mincy, and Alyssa Thomas - played for fifteen minutes or more. The Maryland bench players combined for 45 of the teams 90 points.
We wanted to get our freshmen as much experience as we could, said Frese. We know what our veterans can do and theyre going to help lead this team [but] we wanted to [give the freshmen] as many minutes as we could.
And there was perhaps no more defining characteristic of this game than the eagerness of the freshmen; their hunger was unmistakable as Alyssa Thomas ripped down a rebound and powered to the basket or as Alicia DeVaughn triumphantly blocked a shot. This intense enthusiasm paid off, as the freshmen combined for 38 points and 7 of the teams 10 steals.
And the team was not just impressive on paper - one of the biggest successes of the night was the fulfillment of leadership roles. Point guard Natasha Cloud was one of the most influential freshmen in the game, dishing out 4 assists and leading the team in minutes played despite only scoring 3 points. Clouds presence on the court was an instrumental part in engineering the teams success, according to Frese.
There are so many different areas that Natasha impacts on our team. The most visible [way] was at the end of the game when she was so excited for Whitney Bays and was really fired up for her, said Frese. And then you see her [leadership] through example, by crashing onto the floor for loose balls. Shes really impacting every statistical category out there. I was really impressed with her poise and leadership as a freshman.
Frese believes that the game not only allowed the freshmen to gain crucial experience, but also served as a welcomed opportunity for the whole 2010-2011 team to compete before conference play begins. Any time you can go out and play against somebody other than yourselves is [valuable], especially with as much practice as weve had going against each other said Frese. There were opportunities [in this game] to go against a zone and some pressure defense that absolutely helped us to improve.
Although there are many games still ahead, the Terps, now 1-0, fully capitalized on their first game of the season, bringing to fruition every goal they had set in the preseason: relentlessly running the floor, fighting for every rebound, and most importantly, playing with a reenergized sense of passion.