It became apparent early in tonight’s 82-62 rout of the NC State Wolfpack that Maryland’s women’s basketball team was determined to maintain the defensive intensity that marked their two previous outings as the Terps forced two missed shots and three turnovers – two of whoch were shot clock violations – in State’s first five possessions. Unfortunately for the 4,000 Maryland faithful in attendance, the Terrapins had four early turnovers of their own and were able to open a lead of only eight to nothing. The Wolfpack finally got on the board on a short jumper by their outstanding senior Marissa Kastanek who would drop in consecutive three pointers to knot the score at eight. However, Alyssa Thomas answered with three straight buckets of her own to push the lead back to six. Thomas was soon forced to the bench after picking up her second foul with just under nine minutes remaining. Despite having their star on the bench, Maryland forced a State turnover and a ran out to a couple fast break baskets as the Terps extended their lead to double digits for the first time in the game at 22-12. Eventually, the Terps would lead by as many as 12 before State switched to a zone that gave Maryland a little trouble initially. Two missed three pointers and a turnover coupled with an NC State three pointer and offensive put back cut the lead to seven. The Terrapins fought their way through this bit of a rough patch to stretch the lead to eleven at halftime despite having no free throw attempts and missing their only two three point attempts. Impressively, Maryland held NC State to just 29% shooting for the half marking the fourth consecutive half in which their opponent shot under thirty percent.
The Terps came out aggressively and on fire to start the second half taking their 34-23 halftime margin to 47-28 in the opening three minutes. Maryland pounded the boards early – largely in the person of Tianna Hawkins who scored on two offensive rebounds including one that finished a rare four point play when she corralled the rebound and scored off Alicia DeVaughn’s missed and one attempt. Chloe Pavlech’s 3 point jumper followed by Katie Rutan’s fast break lay up off a beautiful feed from DeVaughn capped a 9-0 run that opened a twenty-one point lead for the home team. After a State mini run cut the lead to 16, Tierney Pfirman sandwiched two three pointers around an Alyssa Thomas jumper and Pfirman’s fellow freshman Malina Howard as well as T-Hawk added jumpers of their own to run the lead back to twenty four. The Terps would pull away to lead by as many as 31 before some late sloppy play and meaningless baskets allowed the Wolfpack to close to the final margin of twenty.
For those of you who attended the game with me, I will mention that yes, I along with scores of other fans did see the moment late in the second half when NC State had seven players on the floor and that somehow went unnoticed by all three officials. I will leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions about that and say no more.
Looking at the box score, Tianna Hawkins had a monstrous game with 26 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists, a blocked shot and two steals. The double-double, Hawkins ninth of the season, ties her with Thomas for the team lead in that category. Thomas (18) and Pfirman (16) also scored in double digits for the Terps who had 23 assists on 36 made baskets. Thomas and Pavlech shared the team lead with six apiece. If there are points for the coaches to emphasize after another easy win, they would be ball protection (the Terps had 20 turnovers and yielded up 13 steals to State as well) and free throw shooting where Maryland was only 7-14 from the charity stripe. However, the Terps held strong in rebounding the Pack by 13 and they also continued their hot shooting breaking the 50% barrier in both halves for the second consecutive game.
The Terps travel to Atlanta on Sunday to face Georgia Tech in a rematch of last year’s ACC Championship game. Tip-off is scheduled for three pm and will be broadcast on ESPN2.