The 10th-ranked Maryland women's basketball team turned to its two most indispensable players and received all-around contributions from a freshman Thursday night to run away from North Carolina State, 82-62, at Comcast Center.
Senior forward Tianna Hawkins scored 16 of her game-high 26 points in the second half and grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds, and junior forward Alyssa Thomas added 18 points, seven rebounds and a game-high six assists to push Maryland to a fourth straight win and its 10th victory in 11 games.
“To see the level of level of play that both Alyssa and Tianna are playing at, in my opinion playing as the two best players in the conference,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “They're playing off of each other and with each other. They're really connecting on the court.”
Forward Tierny Pfirman, meantime, chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds in reaching double figures for the third time in four games. One of the more highly recruited high school players in the country last season, she also shot 7-for-12, making two of Maryland's three 3-pointers.
In beating the Wolfpack for the eighth time in nine games, Maryland overcame 20 turnovers by owning fast-break points 21-0, points in the paint 51-22 and rebounding margin 47-34. The Terps (14-3, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) also shot 55percent four days after shooting 54 percent in a 74-45 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
The Terps limited North Carolina State to 34 percent shooting and just 4-for-13 from 3-point range. Senior guard Marissa Kastanek (16 points) was the only player to reach double figures for the Wolfpack (8-10, 0-6) but missed eight of 13 field-goal attempts.
Maryland began to pull away early in the second half, courtesy of a 13-2 flurry during which North Carolina State's Kody Burke was assessed a technical foul. Thomas, an 81 percent foul shooter, missed both technical free throws, but the Terps got a jumper from Hawkins and five consecutive points, including a 3-pointer, from freshman guard Chloe Pavlech.
On Maryland's next fast break, junior guard Katie Rutan collected a touch pass from junior center Alicia DeVaughn and scored a layup for a 49-28 advantage with 16:36 left in regulation.
From there, North Carolina State's best hope to keep the score close came when Thomas was called for her third personal foul with 15:47 to play. Frese chose to keep the ACC's second-leading scorer in the game, and Thomas made a jumper for a 54-35 lead.
After Burke's jumper to pull the Wolfpack within 54-37, Thomas delivered a cross-court pass to Pfirman, who launched a 3-pointer from the right wing that began a string of six consecutive points. Rutan's jumper stretched the lead to 22, and Hawkins added a jumper for 61-37.
Melissa Kastanek made a pair of foul shots for North Carolina State before Maryland scored the next nine points. Hawkins triggered the run with an offensive rebound and put-back, and Rutan gathered a pass from Thomas for a layup.
Thomas provided Maryland with a 67-39 lead on two free throws, and after she missed a jumper from the foul line, Hawkins collected the rebound, scored on the put-back and drew a foul. When Hawkins swished the bonus free throw, Maryland had a 70-39 cushion with 10:02 to play.
“It was a lot of work,” Hawkins, the leading scorer in the ACC, said of her performance. “Coach said at halftime we weren't going hard enough to the boards, so we just came out in the second half going hard on the offensive end and defensive boards.”