No. 15 Terps outlast Virginia Tech, 61-48

Freshmen Thomas, Mincy lead key run in 2nd half

February 25, 2011|By Gene Wang | The Washington Post

COLLEGE PARK — Certainly the 15th-ranked Maryland women's basketball team won't dismiss a 61-48 victory over Virginia Tech in its regular-season home finale Thursday night. The way in which the Terrapins triumphed? Well, that's another matter entirely.

Maryland wasn't able to shake the worst team in the conference until late in the second half, when a 13-3 run capped by a 3-pointer from freshman guard Natasha Cloud made it 54-40 with 5 minutes, 26 seconds to play. Only then did it become all but certain the Terrapins' aspirations of gaining a top four seed in the ACC tournament remained viable, allowing the announced 5,349 at Comcast Center to exhale.

Freshman guard-forward Alyssa Thomas led Maryland (22-6, 8-5) with a game-high 15 points and had seven rebounds, six assists and three steals to continue her march toward securing conference Rookie of the Year. The reigning ACC Rookie of the Week has won the award a school-record six times and has emerged as the Terrapins' most indispensable player.

The most telling indicator of her value was that Thomas played all but one minute, and she was out of the game that long only because of a cramp in the second half.

Guard Laurin Mincy chipped in with 12points, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range, for her highest scoring total against an ACC opponent. Another of coach Brenda Frese's highly touted group of freshmen, Mincy connected on three consecutive 3-pointers to give the Terrapins a 47-39 buffer shortly before they pulled away for good.

"Disappointed in terms of I thought it was a very lethargic game," Frese said. "I thought Virginia Tech did a nice job of coming in here with a lot of energy, but I'm going to focus on the positives, and I thought both Alyssa and Laurin did some tremendous things for us, gave us great energy in terms of how they competed in this game."

Normally reliant on interior supremacy, Maryland kept the Hokies (11-17, 1-12) at arm's length in the second half because of production from beyond the arc. Its seven 3-pointers, including five after the break, were its second most this season and became that much more relevant considering the Terrapins' failings inside.

Maryland was on the short end in rebounding for the third time this season, 35-33, and it took a prodigious effort after intermission just to get it that close. The Terrapins entered as the No. 2 rebounding team in the nation at plus-14 but trailed by 11 in that category at halftime.

Junior center Lynetta Kizer rounded out Maryland players in double figures with 11points and a game-high 12 rebounds to go with three steals. Other than Kizer and Thomas, the Terrapins' front-court players combined for five rebounds in a game that would have included honoring seniors, except Maryland has none.

The Terrapins are one of seven Division I teams without any seniors, and that was underscored by the freshmen combining for 37 points against Virginia Tech, which lost its third game in a row. But as much as that youth has the program well stocked for the future, it also has been a culprit in Maryland's ragged stretches this season. Most recently, the Terrapins lost to Virginia, which had three conference wins at the time, at home before trouncing then-No. 7 Duke four days later.

Despite its unpredictability, Maryland still can land a coveted bye in the ACC tournament by beating Boston College on Sunday in the regular-season finale and having Georgia Tech lose to No. 12 Miami. The Terrapins trail the Yellow Jackets by a game for fourth place, but Maryland's dramatic 56-53 victory over them this season gives it the tiebreaker.

"I think with a young team, yeah, I think you could look at that," Frese said when asked about inexperience contributing to occasionally uneven performances.

"I think what we're still trying to figure out is playing against the game and playing competition. I think when you're still trying to develop leaders within your youth, you want to be able to understand how important and valuable every single game is."

Elsewhere

No. 12 Miami 84, No. 14 Florida State 68: Shenise Johnson had 25 points and the host Hurricanes beat the Seminoles, pulling away with an 18-0 run late in the second half.

Morgan Stroman scored 19 points and Riquna Williams finished with 18 as the Hurricanes won their 24th consecutive home game and avenged a 66-59 loss at Florida State on Jan. 24.

The Hurricanes (25-3, 11-2 ACC) put together a 14-4 run to erase a 56-50 deficit. Sylvia Bullock capped the surge with a driving basket with 5:02 remaining.

Courtney Ward's two free throws cut Miami's lead to two with 4:02 left, but the Hurricanes responded with 18 consecutive points. Williams and Stefanie Yderstrom each had a key 3-pointer in the surge.

Ward led Florida State (22-6, 10-3) with 19points.

Miami stayed in the running for the ACC title with the victory. The Hurricanes close out the season Sunday at Georgia Tech.

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