COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Maryland sophomore Shatori Walker-Kimbrough leads a talented group of underclassmen that have helped the Terrapins get off to a quick start this season.
Walker-Kimbrough scored 17 of her career-high 25 points in the first half to lead No. 9 Maryland to an 85-67 victory over South Florida on Wednesday night.
Fellow sophomore Lexie Brown added 15 points and Laurin Mincy had 10 and for the Terrapins (3-0). Malina Howard had her first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Kristen Confroy also had 11 points off the bench for Maryland.
''(Walker-Kimbrough) was really explosive,'' Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. ''She really set the tone from the tip. I thought our starters were ready to play and really made a statement early. And then Malina, to see how aggressive she was, we really needed that kind of rebounding.''
Courtney Williams scored 16 points for South Florida. Alisia Jenkins finished 12 with points and Laura Ferreira had 10 for the Bulls (2-1).
After falling behind by double-digits early, South Florida scored eight straight points to pull within 24-20 with 9:44 left in the first half. Maryland, however, stayed in control and a consecutive shots by Walker-Kimbrough increased the margin to 43-30 with 4:05 remaining.
''My main focus was just letting the game come to me, just taking what they gave me,'' Walker-Kimbrough said. ''I felt my team gave me confidence early. I thought the starters came out hard from the beginning.
A pair of free throws by Brene Moseley in the closing seconds gave the Terps a 50-33 lead at the break. Maryland shot 18 of 31 (58.1 percent) in the opening half.
''Giving up 50 points is very uncharacteristic of us, and in the first half, that really hurt us,'' Bulls coach Jose Fernandez said. ''That is just not who we are. We were in the top 15 in the country on defense last year. We went in the locker room against a very good team on the road spotting them 17 points. That's not good.''
Maryland continued to pull away in the second half and layup by Walker-Kimbrough increased the lead to 60-38 with 16:49 left in the game. South Florida could not cut into the margin and 3-pointer by Confroy gave the Terps a 75-53 lead with 7:35 remaining.
Maryland was able to overcome the Bulls' zone defense with their hot shooting. Another jumper by Howard gave the Terps an 81-63 margin with 2:26 left.
''I think it all comes back to me teammates,'' Howard said. ''They make me the player that I am in. I go out and I know they have confidence in me, so I have confidence in myself.''
Maryland also won last year's matchup 78-70, the only other meeting between the teams.
Maryland: The Terps have 48 steals for an average of 16 per game over their first three contests. Maryland has averaged 10 steals a game just once under 16-year coach Brenda Frese in 2002-2003.
South Florida: Williams, who was an All-American Honorable Mention last season, is off to a quick start averaging 17 points so far this season.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
''It was just a really, really solid win so early in the season, especially against a team that is going to be in the NCAA tournament,'' Frese said. ''Obviously, they really challenged us throughout the entire game. Courtney Williams is just a special player and extremely difficult to guard.''
Maryland plays its first road contest of the season at George Washington on Saturday.
South Florida has its home opener Saturday against UNC Asheville before playing in the Paradise Jam tournament.