The fifth-ranked University of Maryland women’s basketball team went into their exhibition game Wednesday night vs. Bluefield State College with confidence and enthusiasm.
The energy in the XFINITY Center was high, as the Maryland band and cheerleading team were in full force, along with an audience full of longtime basketball fans, students and families.
Senior center Brionna Jones put points on the board for the first time this year at the XFINITY Center with a quick layup to open the game. The team pressed on the gas right from the start, ending the first quarter leading the Bluefield State Big Blue an impressive 40-9. Maryland dominated the ball, forcing turnover after turnover and advancing the court on every possession, ultimately ending the first half leading 74-17.
The second half of the game opened with a deep three from junior guard Kristen Confroy, advancing the Terps to a 77-17 lead, and ended with a quick two points from Freshman center Jenna Staiti followed by freshman guard Blair Watson with another three.
What was an outstanding start to the 2016-2017 season concluded with a 78-0 Maryland shutout in the second half. Every Maryland player put points on the board throughout the course of the game and seven hit double figures, including Blair Watson, who finished with with 29 points — five of which were three-pointers — and 10 rebounds.
“I was really excited to watch Blair, I mean she just played free; let the game come to herself,” Coach Brenda Frese said after the game. “I thought she gave a phenomenal effort on both ends of the floor…shooting a three for her is like shooting a layup.”
Watson, also ending the game with six assists and four steals, commented on her first home game in a Terrapin jersey, “I just wanted to show that I’m back and that I want to be a part of this team. I want to show that I belong, I just want to rep Maryland the best way I can.”
This year’s women team is debuting their All-Star American freshman class featuring six McDonald’s All-American nominees and three McDonald’s All-Americans: Kaila Charles, Destiny Slocum, and Blair Watson. The team — having won the Big Ten title each year since joining the division in 2014 — is projected yet again to win the title this year.
“I’d say this is like the start of something super special,” freshman Destiny Slocum said, “it just feels like right now, everything’s falling into place, and even though it’s just the beginning, everything’s feeling really good.”
The Terps will host the Mary Baldwin Fighting Squirrels in their second and final exhibition game on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the XFINITY Center. They officially open the season against UMass-Lowell Nov. 13, also at home.