The eighth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team is accustomed to pushing around opponents inside with a frontcourt rotation that's among the most imposing in the country.
In Sunday's game against No. 5 Duke, though, the Terrapins were the ones getting jostled underneath, and that rare circumstance coupled with shooting mishaps early in the second half resulted in a 80-72 loss before an announced 7,228 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Despite sophomore forward Alyssa Thomas' 26 points to match a career high, Maryland (18-2, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) dropped to third in the ACC and fell two games in the loss column behind its archrival, which extended its school-record home winning streak to 34. The Blue Devils (16-2, 6-0) have won 57 of their past 58 games at Cameron and 25 in a row over ACC opponents.
The Terrapins three times got within three points in the second half, including 71-68 with 3:22 to play on senior center Lynetta Kizer's jumper. But 26 seconds later, sophomore point guard Chelsea Gray sank a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc that had Maryland scrambling the rest of the way.
With 12 points, Kizer was one of two Maryland players other than Thomas to reach double figures. Junior forward Tianna Hawkins had 17, but she, Kizer and sophomore center Alicia DeVaughn combined for just eight rebounds.
Coming off an 86-58 victory over Wake Forest on Thursday in which she set a Maryland record with 24 rebounds, Hawkins had but four against the Blue Devils, and the Terrapins finished with 30, their fewest this season and 11 fewer than Duke. It was the second time Maryland has lost the rebounding battle, and in both instances, the Terrapins also lost the game.
"Obviously it comes down to defense, and it comes down to rebounding to win games," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "We weren't very good in either area today."
Maryland did shoot 55 percent in the first half but came undone in part by making one field goal in seven minutes to begin the second half.
The Blue Devils, meantime, scored 12 points while Maryland was misfiring to build a 56-45 lead with 13:27 to play. The margin grew to 59-47 with sophomore guard Tricia Liston's 3-pointer.
"We couldn't even get a layup there for a while," said Thomas, who had a game-high 10 rebounds along with four steals and three assists. "It was frustrating. We didn't let to get to us and responded, but it wasn't enough to take the lead."
Maryland countered with Thomas's 3-pointer that triggered a 10-2 burst, but Duke got consecutive baskets from reserve center Allison Vernerey and sophomore forward Richa Jackson to push the lead to 65-57. Terrapins sophomore guard Laurin Mincy then made her only 3-pointer, and Thomas converted a layup to cut the deficit to three with 7:20 to play.
Maryland had a handful of clean looks at 3s three-pointers in the final minutes, but senior point guard Anjalé Barrett and Mincy each missed, and the Blue Devils converted both ends of a pair of one-and-one attempts to close a game in which they committed a season-low nine turnovers.
Sophomore guard-forward Haley Peters led Duke with 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting, and Gray added 17 points, 11 assists and five rebounds. Freshman center Elizabeth Willliams chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds with two assists and two blocks.
"When you look at these stats and you see how fundamentally equal they are until rebounding, that's telling a lot of the story," Blue Devils coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
Percentages: FG .455, FT 1.000. 3-point goals: 4-15, .267 (Thomas 2-3, Barrett 1-4, Mincy 1-7, Moseley 0-1). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 6 (Hawkins 3, Mincy, DeVaughn, Barrett). Turnovers: 10 (Moseley 3, DeVaughn 3, Thomas, Rodgers, Barrett, Kizer). Steals: 8 (Thomas 4, Barrett 2, Hawkins, Kizer). Technical fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .500, FT 1.000. 3-point goals: 3-9, .333 (Peters 1-1, Liston 1-2, Gray 1-3, Jackson 0-1, Scheer 0-1, Selby 0-1). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 2 (Williams 2). Turnovers: 9 (Selby 3, Gray 3, Jackson 2, Liston). Steals: 6 (Liston 2, Jackson, Williams, Peters, Gray). Technical fouls: None.
A—7,228. Officials—Eric Brewton, Joe Cunningham, Kathleen Lynch.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times