The Maryland women’s basketball team must have wanted to eat pizza with extra cheese tonight and Michigan State was the mozzarella as the Terps shredded the Spartans 74-49 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final 25 point margin. Pick a statistical category and Maryland was better:
Blocked Shots: 5-3
Shooting %: 50.0 – 38.6
3 point shooting: 7/13 – 3/16
Okay, I fibbed. The teams each had 16 turnovers. (And somebody’s probably going to call me out on MSU’s 32-28 edge in points in the paint but you get my drift.)
In the opening few minutes the game looked like it would be the tight back and forth affair one might expect in a four-five match up particularly given that MSU has the size to match the Terps. Michigan State scored the opening basket taking their first and only lead of the game. Maryland tied the score when Tianna Hawkins found Alicia DeVaughn cutting under the basket for an easy layup. Alyssa Thomas hit her first shot on the Terrapins’ next possession and the Terps had their first lead. Thomas and DeVaughn combined for Maryland’s next three buckets as the Terps opened a 10-6 lead. The Spartans trimmed the lead to one on a three pointer but on the ensuing possession, Hawkins went all Moses Malone. She drove the baseline and missed a lay up, got her own rebound, missed again, grabbed another offensive board and scored. This energized the crowd and her teammates. Chloe Pavlech found Katie Rutan in the corner for an open three, Thomas made a steal and drove to the basket for a lay up to make the score was 17-9 and the rout was on. When Pavlech hit a three point jumper at about the eight and a half minute mark the Terps had doubled up the Spartans 22-11. I’ve mentioned some of the contributions of her teammates (and will do so again) but the real story of the first half was Alyssa Thomas. Michigan State simply had no answer for the junior All-American. She shot over smaller players, drove past bigger ones, and even carved up the Spartans zone when they tried that defense. Thomas finished the half with 18 point on 8 of twelve shooting and was a perfect 2 for 2 from the charity stripe as the Terps took a 34-23 lead into the half.
Taking to heart the lesson they learned in Greensboro when they ceded a 13 point halftime lead to UNC, Maryland came out of the locker room with fire and intensity to open the second half. AT picked up right where she left off hitting a jumper from the wing on the Terrapins first possession. A Hawkins lay up and a Rutan three pointer gave the Terps their largest lead to that point at 41-27. When MSU hit a three pointer, AT immediately answered with one of her own. Maryland turned up the defensive pressure and went on a 14 – 4 run over the ensuing seven minutes that featured two steals and a three pointer from Rutan and another three pointer from Thomas. When the dust settled for the under eight media time out the Terps were up 60-36. Maryland continued to pull away building the lead to as much as twenty-nine at 69-40. With about two and a half minutes to go, the pep band sitting near the Terrapin bench began chanting CAIT-LYN AD-AMS! Adams’s volleyball teammates sitting at the opposite end of the arena picked up the chant as did many of those in attendance. Coach Frese obliged calling a substitution time out and inserting Adams with about a minute and a half to go though the senior volleyball player turned eighth “man” didn’t get off a shot.
Once again, much of the spotlight from this game will focus on Alyssa Thomas. And that is as it should be. The junior was sensational continuing her hot play that began in the ACC Tournament with the 32 point 13 rebound 10 assist first triple double in tournament history. She’s followed that with games of 29, 29, and 28 and tonight could have scored 40 or more had she wanted. After dominating the first half, she let her teammates in on the fun limiting herself to only six shots in the second stanza. However, I need to point out that Tianna Hawkins closed out her last game as a Terrapin at Comcast Center with her 40th career double-double scoring 12 points and pulling down a team high 11 rebounds. Katie Rutan dropped in 18 points including 3 for 7 from behind the arc while pulling down 8 rebounds and adding 3 steals. Freshman point guard Chloe Pavlech scored eight points and dished out six assists with only one turnover. Though she didn’t score, Malina Howard helped clog the interior on the defensive end and also had 3 steals. Sequoia Austin gave the Terps eight solid minutes with an assist an three rebounds. But I’ve saved for last the performance of junior center Alicia DeVaughn. DeVaughn played with fire and intensity scoring 8 points, pulling down 10 boards and added two blocks including a spectacular sequence with about 9 minutes to go where she deflected a shot into the air, pulled it down herself and drew a foul. Clearly their legs are fresh and the rust is gone. It’s now on to Bridgeport and a Saturday rematch with the top seeded Connecticut Huskies.