It took coach Brenda Frese all of 2 minutes and forty-two seconds to call her first timeout in tonight’s women’s basketball match up with the number 24 / 25 Miami Hurricanes as the visitors sprinted out to an 8-1 lead with the Terps missing lay ups and turning the ball over twice in their first three possessions. Fortunately for Maryland fans this was not a harbinger of things to come. Coming out of the timeout, Alyssa Thomas found an open Chloe Pavlech at the top of the circle and the freshman point guard would drop in the first of her three first half three pointers. This shot seemed to settle the Terps as they slowly reeled in the Hurricanes to take their first lead at 13-12. Maryland continued their strong play over the next six minutes going on a 10-6 run that would stretch the lead to five but Miami answered with a 7-0 spurt of their own to recapture the lead at 25-23. Next it would be Maryland’s turn – or I should say Pavlech’s turn. The freshman scored the game’s next six points pulling the Terps even with a runner in the lane, giving them the lead with a three point jump shot, and dropping in one of two free throws to give Maryland a lead they would not relinquish. Before the half ended, Xavier transfer Katie Rutan, giving the Terps some sold play off the bench, would drop in back to back three pointers of her own and Alyssa Thomas would add two free throws as Maryland took a six point lead into the locker room at 37-31.
The Terps played to their strengths in the first half out rebounding the Canes 25-16, scoring 11 second chance points, and holding a 7-0 advantage in fast break scoring. Pavlech was the shooting star of the half with a team leading fourteen points. In addition to the solid contribution from Rutan, the Terps got sixteen strong minutes from Pavlech’s fellow freshman Tierney Pfirman who helped Pavlech against Miami’s constant pressure defense serving as both an outlet and as an additional ball handler while scoring 4 points, grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists.
Coming out of the locker room after halftime, Miami was unaware that they were about to face the wrath of super storm Testudo as Maryland would put together its most complete half of the year. The early part of the half belonged to Tianna Hawkins and Alyssa Thomas. T-Hawk hit the boards with a vengeance and broke out of her shooting slump making 8 baskets in 13 attempts for the half while Thomas asserted herself offensively hitting shots, drawing fouls and finding open teammates. On the defensive end, the Terps were simply suffocating. Miami, which had shot nearly 41% in the first half, shot only 29% in the second. By the under twelve media timeout, the Hurricanes had scored only eleven points and found themselves down by sixteen. In the middle of the half, Maryland’s third freshman, center Malina Howard got into the act getting an offensive put back and knocking down two mid range jumpers. She would be one of four Terps to finish in double figures. This half was simply a clinic in defense, valuing possessions (only 3 turnovers) and sharing the ball. The Terps had 10 assists in the half and 17 for the game. With Maryland up by twenty-two and just over a minute to play, coach Frese ended the game much as she had begun it, with a time out. Rather than needing to settle her team down, Frese used this timeout to insert Caitlin Adams into the game much to the delight of the 4,400 in attendance. For those of you unfamiliar with Adams’s story, she’s the volleyball player who joined the team after the first of the year to provide some extra depth on an injury depleted squad.
In the box score, Tianna Hawkins scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to notch her eighth double-double of the year tying Thomas for the team lead in that category. Pavlech led all scorers with the first twenty point game of her career. Joining them in double figures were Alyssa Thomas with 18 and Malina Howard who added ten.
I plan to travel to Blacksburg to watch the Terps take on the Virginia Tech Hokies Sunday afternoon at 2 pm. My recap will likely be delayed.