With a few minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Maryland women’s basketball team’s lead over Duquesne shrunk to 10 points. About five minutes earlier, the Terps had led by 23.
Maryland, however, pulled away down the stretch to finish with a 77-57 road win, but letting the Dukes back in the game late was emblematic of the team’s inconsistent play Wednesday night.
“Our offense, obviously, in the first half was really rusty,” coach Brenda Frese said. “We looked like we hadn’t played a game in nine days and were coming off finals.”
The teams’ offenses lacked rhythm at the start of the game. Guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough hit a 3-pointer early to put the No. 4 Terps up, 3-0, but each side was cold afterward.
More than halfway through the first quarter, Maryland led, 5-4, and the teams were shooting a combined 3-for-18 from the field.
The Terps entered the second quarter leading, 13-12, and then they capitalized on the Dukes stagnant shooting. The Dukes shot 1-for-11 from 3-point range before halftime, and finished with five makes on their 20 long-ball attempts.
In the second quarter, Maryland’s zone defense kept the Dukes offense off balance. Frese attributed the improvement to increased communication on defense.
Duquesne scored four points in the frame, and at one point went about nine minutes without scoring. That allowed Maryland, which scored 19 points in the period, to enter halftime with a 32-16 lead.
“We did a much better job in the second quarter when we were able to hold them and get the ball inside,” Frese said.
Center Brionna Jones had 10 first-half points. Guard Kristen Confroy, who hit a 3-pointer seven seconds before halftime, matched her.
“She was huge for us,” Frese said of Confroy. “We always know the consistency [Walker-Kimbrough and Jones] bring to the table, so when we can open it up with other scorers … it’s big.”
Walker-Kimbrough, competing near her Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, hometown for the first time in almost four years, finished with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.
“At the end of the day, we’re here for a game,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “We can’t forget that. We need to lock in, because Duquesne is a great team, and I thought they showed that today.”
The offenses found their strokes in the second half as the Dukes scored more points in the third quarter (20) than it did in the entire first half (16). Duquesne forward Amadea Szamosi led the charge, spending much of the second half with more than half of her team’s points to notch a game-high 23.
The Terps also heated up, however, to extend their lead to 21 entering the final 10 minutes.
Maryland continued to cruise early in the fourth quarter, and Frese rested most of her starters, which contributed to the Dukes’ comeback threat.
“There was no quit in Duquesne,” Frese said. “They competed for 40 minutes.”
The Dukes pulled within 10 with about four minutes left before Walker-Kimbrough sunk a pair of free throws on consecutive possessions. Duquesne made a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 68-57 with three minutes left, but the Terps scored the game’s final nine points, including four from Jones, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds.