I’d like to say that the Maryland Women’s Basketball team cruised to an easy win over Wake Forest Friday night in Winston-Salem. I’d like to say it but it wouldn’t be true even if at one point early in the second half it appeared that would be the case. Nonetheless a shorter handed Terps team held off the scrappy Demon Deacons 73-63. Shorter handed, you ask. Yes. The Terps dressed only seven players for tonight’s contest with backup guard Sequoia Austin joining Pfirman, Moseley, Mincy, and Townsend in black Terrapin warm-ups at the end of the bench having suffered a concussion earlier in the week.
The game started promisingly for Maryland with Chloe Pavlech finding Alyssa Thomas for an easy lay-up off the opening tip. However, the Terps immediately hit a rough patch and missed shots coupled with two early turnovers allowed the Deacons to run off eleven of the next thirteen points forcing Coach Frese to call a quick time out with her team trailing 11-4. The Terrapins responded well running off seven straight in a stretch that included a three point jumper from Alyssa Thomas – only her third made long range shot of the season. With Maryland relying on Thomas, who would score 9 of the Terps first 15 points, the teams traded baskets until a small spurt out of the second media time out stretched the visitors lead to six. Wake Forest continued to press and run their sets well and quickly closed to within one with just under 7 minutes to go in the half. Terrapin fans swallowed very hard when, with about three and a half minutes remaining, Alyssa Thomas limped off the court and stood behind the Maryland bench in obvious pain and the Terps clinging to a three point lead. With Maryland switching to a zone defense, junior guard Katie Rutan stepped up immediately for the Terrapins hitting a three pointer, making a steal and finding Malina Howard for an open lay-up. The Terps maintained a working margin of between eight and ten and with about a minute and a half remaining, Thomas reentered the game. Howard’s lay-up would be Maryland’s last field goal of the half but they closed out the period by making seven of nine from the charity stripe taking a 39-28 lead and two upside down statistics into the break. Upside down stat number one was Wake holding a 14-13 edge in rebounding. Upside down stat number two the Deacons turned the ball over twelve times to the Terrapins six.
As they have so often this season, the Terps raced out of the gate in the second half playing swarming defense and attacking the rim. Maryland dropped in three lay-ups in just over a minute of play to quickly run out to a 17 point lead causing Wake to use an early time out. It looked as though the rout would be on as the Terps extended their run to 9-0 and held the Demon Deacons without a field goal until just over 14 minutes remained in the game. However, during this stretch Maryland began to miss shots and turn the ball over with alarming frequency. Wake Forest steadily chipped away at their 20 point deficit closing to within nine on an old fashioned three point play with just under nine minutes left. After an Alyssa Thomas free throw put the Terps up by ten, the Deacons capitalized on two consecutive Terrapin turnovers to pull within six. Malina Howard got the lead back to eight getting an offensive put back off a missed free throw. Tianna Hawkins follwed with one of two from the line and the Terrapin lead was back to nine with six minutes to go. The Deacons continued scrapping and a three point jumper plus two free throws narrowed the gap to four at 59-55.Tianna Hawkins grabbed an offensive rebound of a missed Thomas jumper and with the shot clock running down after the Terps reset their offense, AT found T-Hawk open on the wing and Hawkins calmly dropped in only her second made three pointer of the season. Still, Wake refused to go away and closed to within three at 64-61 with two and a half minutes left. But following a made free throw from Thomas, Pavlech made her sixth steal of the game and found Thomas in the open court for the lay-in. The Terps closed out the game in solid fashion, making their free throws and relying on their junior and senior leaders Thomas and Hawkins who scored Maryland’s final 15 points to secure a hard fought 73-63 win. Thomas and Hawkins shared scoring honors with 23 points each. Malina Howard chipped in 10 off the bench. The Terps did edge out the Deacons on the boards by the slimmest of margins pulling down 27 rebounds to 26 for Wake Forest. Next up the Terps will take the 80 mile ride across I-40 to Durham to tackle fifth ranked Duke Monday night.