Well, it’s a bit after 11:00 pm and I just got home from a bus trip with about 50 other Maryland WBB fans to Newark to watch the Terps take on the Delaware Blue Hens. Lest you think this was going to be a rout, you should know that Delaware lost 1 game in the regular season last year (at Maryland), made the second round of the NCAA Tournament and has one of the best players in the country – Elena Della Donne. Della Donne has been suffering from the lingering effects of Lyme disease and returned to Deleware’s lineup tonight for her first game in about a month. Although she showed flashes of the player everyone expects her to be, the rust from a month of not playing combined with some rugged Terrapin defense - mostly from Alicia DeVaughn – held the star player mostly in check as the Terps rumbled to a somewhat deceptive 69-53 win.
The game got off to a bit of a sloppy start with Maryland committing the first of its 16 turnovers after winning the opening tip. Nissed shots and turnovers kept the game scoreless until Tianna Hawkins broke the ice with a lay up about two and a half minutes in. The game remained tight through the first 8 minutes or so with the Blue Hens taking leads at 14-12 and 16-14. The Terps ran off the next seven points with two Alyssa Thomas jumpers sandwiching a baby hook by DeVaughn to give Maryland a five point lead. With five and a half minutes remaining in the first Half, the home time tied the score at 26. This was a close as they would be for the rest of the night. The Terps responded with a nine point run and eventually settled on a seven point halftime lead.
Coming out of the locker room, the game turned into a bit of the Tianna Hawkins show. The senior forward scored the Terps first 8 points of the half and added 3 rebounds two of which were on the offensive end to stretch the Maryland lead to a dozen. A three pointer from Katie Rutan, the junior transfer from Xavier, provided the largest Terrapin lead of the night at 48-34 with just under 15 minutes left in the game. The Blue Hens answered quickly with a 3 pointer of their own and with Della Donne taking the lead began to slowly chip away eventually cutting the margin to 3 on Della Donne’s three pointer with just over 8 minutes remaining. The rising cheers from the partisan crowd of 5,089 (the largest in Delaware WBB history) were silenced when Rutan dropped in another 3 pointer to stretch the Terps margin back out to six. Delaware scored to cut the lead back to four but freshman point guard Chloe Pavlech answered with her first bucket of the game – a three pointer that seemed to switch all the momentum back in Maryland’s favor. On the ensuing possession, the 5’9” freshman found herself guarding the 6’5” Della Donne and managed to force her into tossing up an air ball. The Terps really turned up the defense at this point allowing the home team only two more points – both coming on free throws- the rest of the way.
To give you some idea of how competitive this game was, four Terrapins logged over 30 minutes with Alyssa Thomas putting in thirty-seven. This was the first time since the game at UConn where 4 or more Terps played at least thirty minutes. Statistically, Tianna Hawkins led Maryland with 16 points and 16 rebounds. AT also added a double-double notching 13 points and 13 boards. The Terps continued sharing the ball well with 19 assists on 26 made baskets. Defensively, Maryland held Delaware to 32.8% shooting and as expected the team with the leading rebound margin in the country won the battle of the boards though the Blue Hens held that margin respectably close at nine.
The Terps will have another week off before taking on the Brown Bears in a noon tip off on Friday, December 28th at Comcast.