I’m the writer who gets to post some good news about Maryland basketball as the women’s team moved to 4-1 in the ACC with a 74-45 rout of the Virginia Tech Hokies in Blacksburg on Sunday. Alyssa Thomas, who missed last season’s shocking loss to VT at Comcast Center with an injury made it clear from the outset that this would be her day. She scored the first six points of the game as the Terps stepped out to a 6-0 lead. Had she been the only scorer for Maryland when Tech called a time out with 7 minutes remaining in the first half, the score would have been tied at 11 all. Fortunately for Terp fans, her teammates provided some additional punch. After Thomas’s initial outburst, Katie Rutan took over the scoring duties with five straight points of her own including a three point jumper that staked the Terrapins to an 11-2 advantage. The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes but the Terps edged into their first double digit lead of the game at 19-9 with about 9 and a half minutes left. Although Maryland was clearly the more talented team and they had built a nice early margin, the few Terp fans in attendance could worry a bit over some careless turnovers and that both Malina Howard and Alicia DeVaughn picked up 2 fouls relatively early in the game (Howard at 12:24 and DeVaughn joining her less then a minute later). Coach Frese played a fairly small lineup for much of the rest of the half and this allowed Tech to stay reasonably close in rebounding to a team that is the nation’s leader in rebound margin. Still, when freshman Tierney Pfirman dropped in her second three pointer of the half to stretch the Maryland lead to fifteen with two minutes left in the half, it became clear to most that the rout would be on. Maryland’s defensive intensity carried over from Thursday’s rout of Miami as the Terps held VT to 26% shooting for the half.
The Terps maintained most of their defensive effort to start the second half lengthening the lead to eighteen. A mini-run by Tech cut the lead to 12 before Malina Howard’s three pointer with 11 minutes to go capped an 8-0 Terrapin run that ballooned the Terps advantage to 20 for the first time in the game. As Maryland continued to methodically pull away from the Hokies, the game continued to be the Alyssa Thomas show with the junior All-American pulling down rebound after rebound, drawing fouls, making shots and finding open teammates. For the game, Thomas would finish with 26 points, 18 rebounds and 6 assists. Oh, and she also added 3 blocked shots for good measure. The Terps had three other players score in double figures with Tianna Hawkins notching 14 and Pfirman and Rutan adding 11 apiece. The comfortable lead allowed Coach Frese to get Caitlin Adams another 2 minutes of playing time and although the senior volleyball walk-on was charged with a turnover, it was off a good bounce pass that was mishandled under the basket.
Though VT shot slightly better in the second half than in the first, the Terrapin defense held the Hokies to 28% for the game and 0 for 8 from behind the arc. The Terps also shared the ball well again with 19 assists on 27 baskets and shot a remarkably efficient 54% for the game marking three consecutive halves over the 50 percent mark.
The Terps return to Comcast Thursday night to take on the N.C. State Wolfpack in an 8:30 pm start.