The Maryland women's basketball team traveled to Coral Gables to take on the Miami Hurricanes Thursday night in an ACC road tilt that took on added significance for the Terrapins when North Carolina upset Duke Monday night. The Terps came away with an important 67-52 win.
With Miami sitting at 12-11 and 4-6 in ACC play the game had the appearance of one the Terps should win comfortably but it was a game they certainly couldn't take lightly. In addition to a win at North Carolina, Miami was tough at home having defeated NC State and losing by only one to Duke when they committed a foul on a a Duke offensive rebound with one second to play.
The Terps jumped out to quick a 4-0 lead on baskets by Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones. Maryland extended that to 8-0 on two more hoops by the same pair forcing a Hurricanes timeout. But the Terps worked the ball inside to Jones to take a 10-0 lead to the first media timeout. Miami missed their first five shots before scoring on their first possession when the teams returned to the court.
With the Terps leading 15-4 the Hurricanes went on a six point run and trailed by five when the clock stopped with 11:54 to play in the half. A layup by Jones stopped the Canes run and pushed the Terps' lead back to seven. Over the next several minutes the Terps were plagued by fouls, poor shooting and turnovers allowing Miami to maintain their momentum. When Maryland's sixth turnover of the half stooped the clock with 7:52 to play, Miami was on an 8-4 run and trailed 21-18.
The Hurricanes tied the game when they made the front end of a one and one with just under seven minutes to play. The Terps went seven consecutive possessions - shooting 0-4 with 3 turnovers before two Thomas free throws gave them a lead they would not relinquish. Tierney Pfirman scored when she rebounded a Katie Rutan miss and made the put back giving Maryland a 25-21 edge at the final media break.
With just over two minutes to play in the half, Jones was called for an offensive foul - her third. DeVaughn was already on the bench with two so Frese had to look to Malina Howard for quality minutes to close out the half. After a three point jumper by Shatori Walker Kimbrough put Maryland ahead 34-25, Howard was whistled for her second foul giving Miami their ninth and tenth free throw attempts of the half. Thomas, who had taken all four of Maryland's free throws also finished the half on the bench with two fouls. Howard gave her coach what she needed scoring the last basket of the half and the Terps led 36-27 into the break.
Frese got some strong production off the bench in the first half. Pfirman led the way with eight points and three rebounds, Shatori added seven and of course two from Howard accounted for Maryland's 17-8 edge in bench scoring. The Terps also held significant advantages in rebounding 21-10, points in the paint 26-12, second chance points 14-4, as well as a 12-2 edge in points off turnovers. Oh, and they also had an 11-6 lead in fouls called against them.
The Terps started the second half with possession and a three pointer by Lexie Brown – her first made three of the game - put the Terps up by a dozen. Leading 43-31 the Terps had four chances to extend their margin but failed to put the ball in the hole after three offensive rebounds. Fortunately, the Hurricanes didn’t make them pay and seconds later they’d regret that miss when Brown hit another three to extend the Terrapin lead to 46-31 and force a Miami timeout. Thomas’ jumper extended Maryland’s run to 7-0 before the media gave Miami another chance to regroup.
In an interesting Statistical twist, with 14 minutes to play Alyssa Thomas who had earlier registered her nineteenth double-double pulled down her twelfth rebound. At that point in the game, Thomas had as many rebounds as the entire Hurricanes squad. Meanwhile, the Terps were gradually pulling away holding Miami to twenty-seven percent shooting and they went to the under twelve minute break with a 53-33 lead. I should also note that the foul situation had also turned around as the Canes were in the bonus with over ten minutes to play and the Terps had been called for only two team fouls.
Though they weren’t shooting particularly well, and were struggling from the free throw line for the second consecutive game, Maryland’s total dominance on the boards – including 20 offensive rebounds – allowed them to hold an eighteen point lead as the clock ticked under eight minutes and the teams went to their respective corners, er, benches.
Back to back Maryland turnovers let Miami cut the lead to fifteen but Laurin Mincy was fouled after Pfirman pulled down an offensive rebound. She made one of two but DeVaughn pulled down her ninth and tenth rebounds of the night – first off Mincy’s missed free throw then off a missed three pointer. Coach Frese must have seen something she didn’t like in that sequence and called a timeout. She also used the break to reinsert Thomas and the senior paid an immediate dividend by making a jumper to push Maryland’s lead back to eighteen and the Terps cruised to a 67-52 win.
In addition to Thomas' double-double, the Terps got strong contributions from Alicia DeVaughn who finished one point shy of a double-double of her own, Brionna Jones who dropped in eleven points despite sitting much of the game with foul trouble, and Tierney Pfirman who came off the bench to add ten points.
Next up for Maryland, a date with the Blue Devils in Durham and a Big Monday appearance on ESPN2.