COLLEGE PARK — — Maryland's game against Drexel on Sunday presented a series of challenges for the young Terrapins. They were playing their third game in six days. They had had only one day to prepare for the defending Colonial Athletic Association champion and its All-America candidate, senior forward Gabriela Marginean. Plus, their best player was nursing a sprained ankle.
But the Terrapins were able to rely on three of their veteran players and won, 82-65, in front of an announced 4,686 at Comcast Center.
Senior guard Lori Bjork, the only upperclassman on the team, scored a season-high 19 points and made four of seven 3-point attempts. Sophomore guard Kim Rodgers, who made her first career start, was a key part of a defensive effort that held Marginean to four second-half points. And sophomore center Lynetta Kizer, who did not play in the second half against Howard on Friday after injuring her ankle, came off the bench to score 13 points and grab four rebounds.
"I'm very, very proud of our veterans. I thought they just did a tremendous job of showing a level of toughness," said Maryland coach Brenda Frese, whose team has five freshmen on its 10-player roster. "That's what you've got to be able to have."
Marginean led the Dragons (2-2) with 17 points, five below her season average. In her previous game, she broke Drexel's all-time scoring mark; by the end of the season, she could be the school's all-time leading scorer, male or female, as well as the CAA's career scoring leader.
Several players - including 6-foot-3 freshman Diandra Tchatchouang (18 points) and 5-7 freshman Dara Taylor - took turns shadowing the 6-1 Romanian, but Rodgers guarded her for most of the game. Rodgers, who is 5-9 and wears a bulky knee brace, spent part of Saturday night studying film of Marginean, trying to figure out her tendencies.
"One of the goals was to limit her touches and just to make sure she had as few as possible, so she wouldn't have an opportunity to make a play," Rodgers said. Marginean, who came into the game having taken nearly one-third of Drexel's shots (an average of 18.6 field-goal attempts), took nine shots, including only three in the second half.
Maryland opened a 62-46 lead with 11 minutes, 24 seconds left in the game after a steal and layup by Taylor. Over the next three minutes, however, the Terrapins committed three turnovers and gave up a short jumper to Tyler Hale and two 3-pointers to Jasmina Rosseel. But sophomore Anjalé Barrett (10 points, four assists), another veteran, made a 3-pointer from the right side, and Bjork followed with a pull-up jumper.
When the Dragons again pulled to within eight points late in the game, Bjork made a 3-pointer and Rodgers came up with a steal.
"There's going to be moments that we'll have levels of inconsistency with our freshmen - hopefully not too many moments - but you have to be able to ride those out, like we did today, with your veterans," said Frese, whose team hosts Minnesota on Thursday. "I think they just did a great job of showing a level of toughness, being able to defend. Now we just want to be able to gain some momentum with this."