Terps adding two jerseys to the rafters
In their final regular season home game as freshmen, Maryland women’s basketball players Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones took part in a ceremony honoring then-senior Alyssa Thomas.
The program’s all-time scoring and rebounding leader had her name and number unveiled on a banner that hangs permanently from the rafters at Xfinity Center.
At the time, neither WalkerKimbrough nor Jones, they recently recalled, envisioned having a career even remotely close to what Thomas was able to accomplish. Four years later, the only two seniors for the secondranked Terrapins (26-2, 14-1 Big Ten) will be recognized in the same way following Sunday’s regular season finale against Minnesota (14-14, 5-10) at noon in College Park.
“Obviously two of the best,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “It’s going to be another incredible day, not only for senior day but honoring them with their jerseys up into the rafters, really everything they’ve meant to our program when you talk about two Final Fours, four Big Ten titles and still with what’s remaining. They’ve just put in a lot of hard work and have done a lot of winning.”
Other notable milestones this season include Jones ascending to fourth on Maryland’s career rebounding list (1,125) and Walker-Kimbrough moving into fifth all-time in points (2,009). Jones is within 15 rebounds of passing Marissa Coleman for third. Walker-Kimbrough, meanwhile, needs 70 points to surpass Kristi Toliver for fourth in scoring.
As a testament to their consistency, Walker-Kimbrough and Jones have played in every possible game throughout their careers, with Sunday marking 136 consecutive appearances.
Equally as important, according to Frese, has been their leadership this season on a youthful team seeking a third consecutive Big Ten regular season championship. A victory over the Golden Gophers would earn Maryland a share of the title with Ohio State.
It also would put the Terrapins back on track after a disheartening 98-87 loss to the No. 12 Buckeyes on Monday night in Columbus, Ohio. Maryland lost to its nemesis for a third consecutive time in failing to secure the conference championship outright.
Ohio State is the only school to have beaten Maryland since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014.
“That’ll be really exciting,” Walker-Kimbrough said of having her and Jones’s numbers hanging along some of Maryland’s other all-time greats, “but I’m just really excited to see how we’ll get better from the loss and seeing that all unfold on Sunday.”
Walker-Kimbrough led Maryland with 29 points against Ohio State and is second behind Jones this season in scoring, averaging 18.2 points (Jones averages 19.2). That Walker-Kimbrough became one of five players in school history to score 2,000 points, Frese said, is the result of many hours spent in the gym, motivated in part by being overlooked coming out of high school.
Even Walker-Kimbrough had some reservations about whether she could excel at the highest level of Division I until Frese Minnesota at Maryland Today, noon, Big Ten Network made her a primary target in recruiting. The 5-foot-11 guard since has been named first-team all-Big Ten twice and last season scored 41 points in a game, one short of matching the Maryland single-game record that Coleman and Jones share.
Jones scored 42 points this season during an 89-83 win against visiting Penn State on Jan. 11. The 6-3 center made 15 of 19 shots in a typically efficient performance. Jones leads the country in field goal percentage (69 percent) after doing the same last season, when she shot 67 percent.
Her career field goal percentage of 64.5 trails only Crystal Langhorne, who is No. 2 all-time for Maryland in points and rebounds, by a fraction.
As with Walker-Kimbrough, Jones said, reaching this point has required countless hours in the gym, as well as on the court transforming her body. When she arrived, fitness had not been a priority. This season, Jones is third on the team in minutes played, rarely growing fatigued despite defenders constantly jostling her for position on the low block.
“Initially I was in shock and surprised,” Jones said of her reaction upon watching a video informing her she would have her number displayed for posterity at Xfinity Center. “I had no idea that was a possibility. Then when they showed the video and everything, at that time it didn’t sink in. I think now it’s starting to sink in, especially since we have one more regular season game left.”
Brionna Jones, middle, and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (32) are Maryland’s only two seniors.