COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — No. 8 Maryland needed to erase a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter to escape Wednesday’s game at James Madison with a victory.
Taylor Mikesell and the Terrapins made sure Sunday’s matchup with Delaware wasn’t nearly so stressful.
Mikesell matched her career high with 23 points and Maryland never trailed in a 99-55 rout of the Blue Hens.
“I thought the quick start, especially defensively, was a big improvement for us,” coach Brenda Frese said of the Terrapins’ first outing since a 70-68 defeat of JMU.
Ashley Owusu and Blair Watson both had 12 points for the Terrapins (3-1).
Maryland quickly achieved separation in the first quarter. Mikesell hit a 3-pointer and Watson added two more — all in a span of 53 seconds — to give the Terps a 20-4 lead and cap an 18-2 run. Delaware never cut the deficit to less than 11 the rest of the way and trailed 57-24 at halftime.
Mikesell had 10 points in the first quarter to spur the strong start. She finished with four rebounds and three steals and tied her career high with five 3-pointers.
“I love where Taylor’s at right now,” Frese said. “She’s taken great pride at both ends of the floor. She understands — and she’s gotten it quicker than most — how we want to play.”
Sunday also provided Mikesell the chance to get back on track after shooting 4 of 15 over the Terps’ last two games. She was 8 of 12 from the floor against the Blue Hens.
“Just not think about,” Mikesell said of shrugging off the mini-slump. “Just play the game the right way and play through my teammates and know it’s going to come back to me.”
The Blue Hens (0-3) struggled with their ballhandling throughout the game, committing 25 turnovers, leading to 41 Maryland points. Former Florida guard Tee Johnson led Delaware with 15 points.
“You have to play a near-perfect game when you’re playing against them, and at home that’s just an added bonus for them,” Blue Hens coach Natasha Adair said. “We will live to fight another day. It’s the third game of the year, so we’ll learn from this.”
Maryland improved to 13-0 against Delaware.
Delaware: Graduate student Nicole Enabosi, the 2018 Colonial Athletic Association player of the year, missed all of last season with an ACL tear and has yet to debut this season. Adair said there is not an exact date for Enabosi’s return but anticipates it will happen in time for league play. The Blue Hens, picked to finish fourth in the CAA this season, figure to take a major step forward when she is back.
Maryland: Frese mixed up her lineup, with Shakira Austin and Blair Watson starting for the first time this season. Stephanie Jones, who had started 71 consecutive games, and Diamond Miller came off the bench. Maryland figures to lean heavily on Austin, who is averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, as the season unfolds. “If we want to go where we need to go, we’re going to need to use our 6-5 presence inside,” Frese said.
Voters could modestly punish Maryland for its close call at James Madison, but the Terps are unlikely to move much in either direction after their 2-0 week.
The short-handed Terps have only nine healthy players, and each received at least 14 minutes against the Blue Hens. Frese has managed her rotation well so far this season, with only Owusu averaging more than 30 minutes.
Delaware: The Blue Hens have a week between games before traveling to Central Florida on Nov. 24.
Maryland: The Terrapins’ three-game homestand continues Wednesday when local rival George Washington visits College Park.
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