NEWARK, Del. — After forward Rebecca Lawrence made a jumper to give Delaware a 6-2 lead less than four minutes into the first quarter Thursday, Maryland women’s basketball turned to its defense to lift its struggling offense.

It’s a familiar formula for coach Brenda Frese’s young team, and it seemed to work against the Blue Hens, who made just one of their next 13 attempts. The Terps capitalized with a 16-2 run to take an 18-8 lead.

But just when it appeared No. 5 Maryland was about to turn on the jets and put away an overmatched opponent for good, the team slogged through an equally cold second-quarter shooting performance, allowing Delaware to claw within six.

The Terps finished the half strong and shot much better after the break to eventually scrape to a 77-53 victory at Bob Carpenter Center, but Maryland’s offensive futility made the task much more difficult than it needed to be.

“This was one where we needed to find a different way to be able to grind it out,” Frese said. “I thought the second half [our offense] improved, but it’s got to get a lot better for us getting into conference play.”

Inconsistent offensive play has been a recurring theme for the Terps throughout the season to this point.

After putting up 85 points in a road triumph over then-No. 10 South Carolina, Maryland (11-0) didn’t break 70 in its next three outings. The Terps followed that up with three straight performances notching at least 80 points, and it seemed as if Frese’s team was finally out of its scoring rut.

But from the opening tip against Delaware (4-7), Maryland again struggled to put the ball in the basket.

Even when the Terps went on their 16-2 burst in the opening quarter, they shot 4-for-12 from the field and missed all seven of their shots from deep.

Maryland wouldn’t hit a 3-pointer until the 2:07 mark of the first half, and Frese wasn’t pleased with her squad’s quick trigger.

“We had a long talk at halftime about [our shot selection],” Frese said. “I’m okay with a three, but maybe not on our first hit when we’re struggling.”

A 6-0 run by the Blue Hens in the second quarter cut the Terps’ lead to just six, but Maryland slowly wore Delaware down with its athletic supremacy.

For the first time this season, guard Channise Lewis didn’t crack the starting lineup, and guard Taylor Mikesell took over the responsibilities running the point. Frese sat Lewis in favor of forward Shakira Austin, and the move paid off.

With Austin in the lineup, the Terps capitalized on their size advantage and pounded the ball inside to counteract their anemic shooting night. They were rewarded with trips to the foul line, making 21 of their 29 free throws.

In her first career start, Austin delivered again. She scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to complete a double-double, and finished with eight blocks to tie a single-game school record. She’s now accumulated 35 rejections on the season, tying for 24th on the program’s all-time list with 18 regular-season games to go.

With Austin dominating in the paint, Delaware was forced to settle for contested midrange jumpers. The Blue Hens shot just 25.6 percent in the first half, and they trailed Maryland 35-23 at the break.

“Stopping people from driving and making them lose their confidence to come back into the paint is a key factor,” Austin said. “I think it impacts the game a lot.”

Coming out of the break, the Terps finally found a rhythm on the offensive end. They went 7-for-14 from the field in the third quarter to extend their edge to 15 entering the final period.

Mikesell — who bricked her first five 3-pointers and first seven shots overall — powered Maryland after the break. The streaky sharpshooter made five of her final seven shots from the field after the rough start, including her last five three-point attempts, to finish with 15 points.

Maryland eventually pulled away for a 24-point thrashing of Delaware in the Terps’ final tune-up before nonconference play, but going forward, they must regain some stability on the scoring end to be successful as the competition ramps up.

And while the Blue Hens didn’t prove to be much of a threat to Maryland’s undefeated record in the end, the physical nature of the game could provide the Terps with vital experience entering the conference slate.

“Today was a great way for us to lead into Big Ten play, especially with Delaware’s physicality” forward Stephanie Jones said. “I think we’re on the path to where we need to be.”