In just her second game back, Kizer scored a career-high 25 points to lead the No. 8 Maryland Terrapins over the St. Joseph's Hawks, 94-71.
"I thought tonight was a nice, solid overall win. I thought it was extremely balanced from our end," said Head Coach Brenda Frese.[St. Joseph's] had a lot of fight to them. It's great for us to be challenged like that throughout the entire game." Maryland got off to a quick start, going up 12-3 in the opening minutes. But thoughts of an early blowout were quickly erased when the Hawks started staging a couple runs, cutting the deficit to five with 7:11 left when Shelby Smith hit a three-pointer.
Not to be deterred, the Terrapins opened things back up, as Alyssa Thomas scored nine points in five minutes and Maryland was able to end the half up 49-33. At the half, Thomas led the Terps with 16 points while Kizer had 14.
Anjale Barrett went down with an injury with five minutes left in the first half. A trainer helped her off the court, and she later emerged with an ice pack strapped to her knee. She did not go back into the game, but Frese said it was more of a precautionary decision.
She's fine, said Frese. We wanted to be smart with it with getting ready to play two games in back-to-back days down in Florida.
Barrett's absence gave some of the point guard duties to Laurin Mincy, a role she embraced.
When I'm at the point, I'm basically looking to get my teammates involved, she said. I'm going to push it in transition, because that's really our game. When we're in transition, no team can stop us.
What I'm really excited about is Laurin Mincy's line, said Frese. When you talk about just how she controlled the game and got us into an offense, that's exciting to look at the depth we have.
In the second half, St. Joseph proved that they were not going to go away easily. They continued to battle, getting the deficit down to 11 and then later 13 when Katie Kuester hit a three-pointer.
The Hawks' displayed plenty of fight, but the Terps' relentless offense always had an answer, and Maryland slowly began pulling away from St. Joseph for good. They went up by 26 - their largest lead of the night, on a jumper by Kizer with 4:17 remaining, and held on the rest of the way for a 94-71 victory.
Maryland was all over the glass in this one, dominating the Hawks 58-25 in rebounds. St. Joseph's only managed 12 points in the paint all game, something Frese was pleased with.
I loved the dominance of the glass that we were able to display tonight," she said. "Being able to get the ball inside and really make things difficult for them. And to be able to convert what we did on the free throw line, tremendous game for us to be able to build upon. It was a physical battle from the start, with a lot of contact and frequent fighting for rebounds in the paint. There were 41 combined fouls in the game, and the Terps used their 34 free throws to their advantage, hitting 82.4% of them.
Kizer scored her 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting and also hauled in eight rebounds. Thomas finished with 21 points - 11 of which were from the free throw line - and nine rebounds. Hawkins had a big second half to finish with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Laurin Mincy scored 14 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out six assists. Alicia DeVaughn had 11 rebounds in the win.
Kizer took the attention from her big night in stride, pointing out that there is still room for improvement.
I just want to go out and just play hard for my team pretty much, but it definitely feels good to be back. The girls worked so hard for the first couple games, I'm just glad I can help out too, said Kizer.
I love how [Lynetta] has approached everything and just been real vocal, a ton of energy for us, added Frese. Obviously she had big play tonight that we have to have to be successful.
Next, Maryland will head down to Miami, Florida, to play in the Florida International Thanksgiving Classic. There, they play Florida International on Friday and CSU Bakersfield on Saturday. The team is looking forward to the trip.
We're excited to be able to get down to some warm weather and take our team to the beach tomorrow, enjoy a light day and take Alicia back home, said Frese. As we prepare after Thanksgiving, back-to-back games prepare us for when we get into conference play.