Maryland’s Alex Aust showed off her keen eye for the cutters in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, tallying a record 13 assists as the No. 5 Terrapins won their fourth straight tournament title.
Aust dished out five assists in the opening round win over Virginia Tech, tying the tournament single-game record. She then had four in the 12-3 semifinal win over No. 7 Duke and four more in the 14-10 title-game victory over No. 4 North Carolina. That total smashed the previous record of seven set by North Carolina’s Becky Lynch last season.
A Bullis graduate, the junior attacker added three more assists in Wednesday night’s 19-10 win over No. 16 Georgetown to bring her season total to 50, which ranks third on the Terps all-time single-season chart.
“They’ve definitely moved me behind the cage to fill that role,” Aust said, “but it’s just so easy when you’re passing to Kristy [Black] and Karri Ellen [Johnson] and Katie [Schwarzmann] and Brooke [Griffin] and they’re finishing everything I pass to them. They get so open. Teams are so focused on trying to shut down Karri Ellen that Kristy then is wide open. They make my job easy. I just give it to them.”
With 36 goals, Aust is also a finisher. She had four in the ACC tournament, including three against Duke, and came within one of the tournament record for points with 17. Lynch holds that record with 18 last season.
Maryland coach Cathy Reese said Aust’s emergence as a feeder has been key to the Terps success all season but more so as they avenged regular-season losses to Duke and Carolina.
“She has gained confidence, she’s seeing the field really well and she’s a smart player, so she’s stepped into this role and been super multidimensional,” Reese said. “I think the key for her is she’s got really good game sense. As her confidence has developed over the course of the season, we’ve seen her just explode and now she’s really hard to defend and adds a whole other dimension to our offense.”
Rich Scherr contributed to this article.