Brenda Frese has no problem with her Maryland women’s basketball team missing shots.
What Frese can’t abide is passing up an open shot.
The Terrapins took that to heart Saturday afternoon, moving within a victory of advancing to the Final Four for a second straight year and fifth time in school history.
Laurin Mincy gave Maryland a big lift in the first half and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough took the baton in the second half, as the No. 1-seeded Terrapins fended off their former ACC rival, fourth-seeded Duke, 65-55 in a Sweet 16 game in the Spokane regional before a crowd of 8,686.
Fourth-ranked Maryland (33-2), which won for the 27th straight time, meets Tennessee (30-5) Monday. Tipoff is at 6.
Mincy scored all 15 of her points in the opening 20 minutes. In the second half, when Duke briefly pulled out a box-and-one on her, Walker-Kimbrough provided the difference by scoring 18 of her game-high 24 points.
Walker-Kimbrough was 2 of 2 from 3-point range in the second half, finishing 10 of 15 from the floor overall.
So Mincy-conscious were the Blue Devils, even in their extended 2-3 zone, that Maryland’s usual leading scorer attempted just two shots in the final 20 minutes. She had no problem deferring.
“They (the Blue Devils) were trying to make adjustments, but we just kept playing our game,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “And coach told us that if we pass up an open shot, that’s a bad shot, so Bri (Jones), Laurin (Mincy), Malina (Howard), Lexie (Brown) and Kiara (Leslie) started feeding me the ball and I just had to knock them down.”
If it sounds like Walker-Kimbrough just named off the Terps’ roster, well that shows the team’s depth.
“I thought Laurin gave us a calming presence,” Frese said of the first half. “It took us a while to get into a rhythm and to be able to kind of get a feel for their size. I thought her courage and her confidence in terms of wanting to make big plays. (That) really helped us to settle in in the second half and for the play that we were able to receive from Shatori and the rest of her teammates.”
It also took the Terps a while before they could shake the Blue Devils (23-11).
Duke made six straight shots in one stretch, pulling within 42-41 when Elizabeth Williams got a putback with 13 minutes remaining.
The Terps answered. Maryland went on an 18-7 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Walker-Kimbrough, for a 60-48 lead with 5:22 to go.
Maryland was concerned with Duke’s size going into the game. But the final rebounding statistics favored the Terps 33-24.
Williams led Duke with 18 points and nine rebounds.
“We just didn’t play a good game – to be outrebounded. We have been outrebounding everyone all year,” Duke coach Joanne McCallie said. “You have to give Maryland a lot of credit. They have a lot of guards. A lot of guards and we (don’t). That was a big problem.”
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