Watson and Austin help No. 9 Maryland rout Clemson 63-44

NCAA Basketball
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP)Blair Watson noticed the difference – for the first half of Friday’s Daytona Invitational game, ninth-ranked Maryland and Clemson were playing with a men’s basketball.

But afterwards the Terrapin senior remained adamant that it had no effect in her fourth-quarter three-point barrage that lifted Maryland to a 63-44 victory over the Tigers Friday in the Ocean Center.

Watson hit four-pointers in a 16-0 Terrapin run as Maryland (6-1) pulled away after Clemson (2-5) cut it to nine, 46-37, on Shania Mertins’ lay-up with 9:37 remaining.

She finished with a season-high 19 as Maryland won its fifth straight.

“(The women’s ball) is a lot lighter, said Watson, who was 5-11 from three-point range.” I just found my range.”

Shakira Austin added 17 points and played a key role in Maryland storming out to a 32-8 lead on Kaila Charles’ lay-up with 2:54 remaining in the first half.

“Blair played a complete game and we need her to knock down shots,” said Maryland coach Brenda Frese. “Shakira continues to play at a high level. For us to be successful, we have to play through her.”

Maryland forced 29 turnovers – 18 in the first half, and limited Clemson to 2-15 shooting from three-point range. The Tigers’ 44 points were both their season low and the low for a Maryland opponent.

“Right now, I’m excited about our defense because we hang our hat on it,” Frese said. “We had a lot of energy in the first half.”

Austin connected on six of her first seven shots as the Terrapins led 12-5 after the first quarter.

“Shakira was tremendous on the glass,” said Frese, noting Austin’s eight rebounds. “That 6-5 presence gives us such a presence inside.”

Clemson closed out the first half with a 9-2 run and got it to 34-22 in the third quarter on Kendall Spray’s three-pointer. Maryland once again responded with its defense, holding the Tigers scoreless the next four minutes to push its lead to 41-23 with 4:08 remaining in the third quarter on two Kalia Charles free throws.

Amari Robinson led Clemson with 14 points, while Spray added 11.

BIG PICTURE:

MARYLAND: Austin, a sophomore has been on a role for the Terrapins ever since leading a come-from-behind victory over James Madison. She’s scored double-figures each game during this win streak and basically took over the game both in the post and the open court in Maryland’s aggressive defense.

CLEMSON: The Tigers’ non-conference schedule has also included No. 5 South Carolina and Penn State and has Iowa before the ACC opener against Florida State. The Tigers came into this game averaging 22 turnovers.

UP NEXT:

Maryland will face Belmont on Saturday.

Clemson will meet Alcorn State on Saturday.

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