The Terps began the game with indomitable intensity, going on an 18-2 run in the first five minutes of play.
The Terps saw perhaps one of the greatest successes for their full-court press so far this season, as they forced La Salle into 5 turnovers in the first five minutes, eagerly smothering their opponents with effective traps and capitalizing on the resulting panic by leaping for steals and racing to the basket for fast break layups.
I thought we just came out with a great sense of energy today, said Maryland head coach Brenda Frese. I thought the first ten minutes of the first half we were really, really good. [We were] changing up a lot of things defensively, using our length, and using our speed.
Contrary to popular belief - that such a shortage of games would stifle the teams momentum - Frese believes the break strengthened the teams resolve.
[Todays game] was really indicative of how we came back after the break, said Frese. Ive been really impressed with the maturity on this team. The way they came back, they absolutely put in the work when they were at home, so it is really exciting to see.
Theyre hungry, so thats fun when youre coaching a team that isnt satisfied and stays motivated and driven, added Frese.
Besides working out at home, since the team has returned to Comcast Frese reports that the Terps have had two of [their] best practices of the season.
As evidenced in todays game, Frese reports that these practices have included special attention to the execution of presses.
With our practice time, weve been able to rep some of our different presses and its really starting to come together, I can see our team understanding, said Frese. And with our versatility, we can run a lot of different looks based on the game, what we feel is really helping us. And you can see we can feed off of it, our defense leads to easy opportunities in transition.
Accordingly, the Terps defensive pressure allowed them to generate 31 points from 19 La Salle turnovers and 18 fast break points, while La Salle did not earn any fast break points.
Junior Lynetta Kizer and freshman Alyssa Thomas led the Terps fast-paced scoring crusade with 15 points and 14 points, respectively.
The Terps proved unselfish offensively, recording a season-high 24 assists led by sophomore Diandra Tchatchouang who dished 5. The Terps talented bench solidly outscored the Explorers bench 29-0.
The Terps also outscored the Explorers in the paint 52-10 and outrebounded them 51-36. Kizer led the team in rebounding with 9 boards, Tchatchouang grabbed 7, and four other Terps - Tianna Hawkins, Essence Townsend, Natasha Cloud, and Thomas - each pulled down 5.
The Terps currently lead the nation in rebounding margin, averaging +18.1 per game.
Frese reports that the teams intensity against La Salle is especially promising as the Terps will begin conference play in just nine days, taking on #3 Duke on January 6.
It is fun to really see this team starting to gel and click, and obviously this is the time that you want to be coming together as youre getting ready for whats out ahead with ACC play.
However, Frese and the Terps, never satisfied, know they must continue to improve. We had a dip in intensity the second ten minutes of the first half, so [we need to] sustain the level of intensity. Weve got to be able to play a forty-minute game as were getting ready to play tougher competition.
The Terps will take on #18 St. Johns tomorrow, December 29 at 11:30 a.m. for the title of the Terrapin Classic.