Playing for the first time since its most dispiriting loss of the season a week earlier, the ninth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team punished Boston College in the early stages Thursday night and coasted the rest of the way for an 86-44 victory before an announced 3,607 at Comcast Center that included the return of Atlantic Coast Conference leading scorer Alyssa Thomas.
A sore thumb kept Thomas on the bench last week against Virginia Tech, which dealt Maryland its second straight loss despite having won just twice in conference at the time. Shortly after that game, the Terrapins vowed to rededicate themselves to begin the second half of their ACC schedule.
With Thomas and Laurin Mincy leading the charge, Maryland (19-3, 6-3 ACC) did just that by building a 51-13 halftime lead on the strength of multiple barrages, most notably 20-0 heading into the break. The Terrapins made three of their 10 3-pointers during that stretch after a 13-1 flurry provided a 27-11 lead that had Maryland on its way to its most lopsided conference win in its past 70 games.
"I thought the first half was by far the most inspired, best effort and intensity that we've given to date, and it's encouraging," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I thought it showed a lot of character from our last time out."
Thomas finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, and was able to rest for a good portion of the second half with the outcome all but settled. Thomas injured her thumb during practice two days after Maryland lost at No. 5 Duke, 80-72, on Jan. 22, and the sophomore forward had a cast fitted for precautionary reasons.
Last season's ACC Rookie of the Year, who's scoring 19.3 points per game, had the cast removed last Friday and was back at practice early this week. It took Thomas six seconds to score against the Eagles (5-17, 0-9), who lost their ninth in a row, shot 21 percent and were outrebounded 50-43.
"It just felt good to be back on the court with my team," said Thomas, who played five minutes in the second half.
Thomas scored six of Maryland's first 11 points to open the game and finished the first half with 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. She shot 6-for-9 and did not commit a turnover in 14 minutes, leaving no doubt her thumb is just fine.
When Thomas wasn't busy getting baskets in the lane, Mincy was doing her part from long distance. The sophomore guard scored 13 of her game-high 16 points in the first half and made four of her five 3-pointers before the break.
Thomas "brings so much to our team," Mincy said. "She brings a lot of energy. She picks us up. When she's doing her thing, we just follow her lead."
Freshman guard Brene Moseley also scored 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting that included 3-for-4 from 3-point range, and senior forward-center Lynetta Kizer chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
In leading from start to finish, Maryland shot 47 percent overall and 56 percent from 3-point range, and made 12 of 14 free throws. The Terrapins outscored Boston College inside 38-14, collected 25 points off 16 turnovers and never trailed by fewer than 25 points in the second half.
The comfortable margin also enabled Frese to give ample minutes to seldom-used reserves such as junior center Essence Townsend and sophomore guard Sequoia Austin. Maryland got 44 points from its bench players.
"In the first half, we were really locked in," Frese said. "Our ball pressure was really good. Our help-side defense, I thought, was tremendous. We communicated extremely well, and obviously having the bench on our end is a big assist."