No. 3 seed Maryland beats Radford 73-51 in NCAA opener
Taylor Mikesell scored 16 points, Kaila Charles had 14 points and nine rebounds, and the third-seeded Terrapins overpowered Radford 73-51 on Saturday in the women’s NCAA Tournament.
Stephanie Jones added 12 points and Shakira Austin tallied 11 to help Maryland advance to the second round for the 15th time in 15 tries under coach Brenda Frese.
After yielding 90 points to Iowa in their previous game, a loss to Iowa in the Big Ten championship, the Terrapins cranked up the defense against a Radford team that came in with an 18-game winning streak.
Maryland limited the Highlanders to 29.7 percent shooting, forced 17 turnovers and had 11 steals. Standing tall in the middle of the zone was 6-foot-5 Austin, who proved to be a formidable obstacle.
“In the Big South there’s nobody that long, especially No. 1. I’m not sure how tall she is,” Radford forward Destinee Walker said. “She is long, and the rest of the team is long. I don’t think it was their zone, it was their length.”
Radford coach Mike McGuire said: “Not only did they have length, I thought they played exceptionally hard. You could tell they had laser focus today and were ready to get this tournament underway.”
Pressing on defense from the outset on both ends of court, Maryland forced four turnovers and held Radford without a field goal until Walker popped a 3-pointer with 5½ minutes gone to make it 16-5.
“I thought we were ready to go from the tip, especially on the defensive end,” Frese said.
The Highlanders (26-7) were caught off guard, and they ended up playing catch-up the rest of the way.
“Obviously the start to the game was a big factor in how we played,” McGuire said. “Our start set the tone for the game, and it was something we couldn’t recover from.”
On the offensive end for Maryland, Mikesell, a freshman guard, made four 3-pointers to set the school single-season record of 94. Jones made all six of her shots in the first half and Charles helped Maryland finish with a 46-40 rebounding advantage.
Walker scored 15 points in Radford’s fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, the first since 1996. In those four trips, the Highlanders have been outscored by 57, 40, 41 and 22 points.
Following its rough start, Radford closed to 24-20 before Charles made the first and last basket in a 9-0 surge that put the Terps up 33-20 at halftime.
Radford went scoreless over the final 5:13 of the first half after temporarily getting back into it with an 18-8 run that bridged the first and second quarters.
Maryland pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Highlanders 25-15 for a 58-35 lead.
“Our defense definitely led to our offense in the third quarter, got us out running in transition,” Mikesell said. “We were able to get one stop, get the rebound and push in transition.”
Radford, in contrast, scored only 14 points on fast-break baskets.
‘One of our strengths all year long is our play in transition,” McGuire said. “It was pretty clear they were trying to slow our pace from the get-go.”
Radford: The Highlanders made great strides this season. The next task for McGuire is to assemble a team capable of beating a Power Five conference team.
Maryland: The Terps needed a feel-good victory after waiting nearly two weeks to get back on the court following that distasteful 90-76 loss to Iowa.
Charles marked her 21st birthday by playing 26 minutes before taking a seat.
The 6-foot-1 junior scored Maryland’s first basket, got an assist on the second field goal and appeared content to be part of a team effort after scoring 36 against Iowa.
With a victory Monday, the Terrapins would reach the Sweet 16 for the ninth time in 17 seasons under Frese.