@No. 9 Maryland
The ninth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team leaned on Tianna Hawkins on the way to an early lead against Virginia, then turned its Atlantic Coast Conference opener into a runaway thanks to a burst by Alyssa Thomas immediately after the break for a 79-55 victory Thursday night at Comcast Center.
Thomas finished with 20 points, including 10-for- 11 from the foul line, to match a game high and had 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals before fouling out with 1:47 to play.
Hawkins also scored 20 points and had a game-high 12rebounds for the short-handed Terps, who played their second game without their injured starting backcourt.
With eight players on the active roster, Maryland didn't run into foul trouble on Monday night in a 63-48 loss to No. 2 Connecticut, but circumstances changed drastically in the second half against the Cavaliers. Late in the game, Maryland had four players on the floor with three fouls, including Thomas and Hawkins, who fouled out with 2:14 to play.
By that time, though, the Terps (5-2) were well on their way to their most lopsided victory over Virginia since a 95-68 win on Jan. 19, 2007, thanks to an 18-4 run in the first half followed by 9-0 to begin the second.
"I thought we did a really nice job coming in, quick turnaround, obviously, after the Connecticut game, and I thought we really responded," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "We came out both halves really aggressive and ready to play and obviously battled some adversity tonight in terms of foul trouble and them going to the free-throw line."
Virginia (5-3) shot 39 free throws and Maryland 35 as the teams combined for 52 personal fouls. The Cavaliers had one player, Telia McCall, foul out, and Maryland had three when junior center Alicia DeVaughn (eight points, 10 rebounds) picked up her fifth with 5:21 to play.
The Terps were able to overcome a dearth in depth thanks to a rebounding margin of 50-29 that in part led to a 36-16 advantage in points in the paint. Maryland also limited Virginia to 25 percent shooting, including 19percent in the first half, and won decisively in fast-break points, 14-0, despite limited resources.
"I think tonight was just more about focusing on Maryland and just coming out and doing what we did with our defense," Thomas said. "Just getting steals that led to offense."
Maryland used that blueprint during its first push that came on the heels of Hawkins' scoring four straight baskets for a 10-5 lead, and the senior center ended Maryland's first-half scoring with a pair of foul shots that provided a 35-18 cushion.
Hawkins scored on a rebound for the first points after halftime, and Thomas took over from there, having a hand in the next nine points in a row that swelled the margin to 46-21. Thomas converted a three-point play, assisted on a layup by freshman forward Tierny Pfirman (17points), stole the ball and scored a layup and finished the sequence with a jumper.
Virginia got two free throws from junior guard Ataira Franklin, but Pfirman made a 3-pointer before Hawkins' jumper gave Maryland its largest lead, 51-23. The closest the Cavaliers got after that was 53-39 with 12:09 left in regulation.