Playing its first game in a week, the 10th-ranked Maryland women's basketball team overcame a ragged beginning against Boston College, rallied to claim the lead for good shortly before halftime and used another flurry after the break to pull away for an 85-62 victory Sunday in front of an announced 5,503 at Comcast Center.
Senior forward Tianna Hawkins scored 19 of her game-high 26 points in the second half and added six rebounds. The Atlantic Coast Conference's top scorer and second-leading rebounder, she shot 11-for-14 from the field and made all four of her free throws.
Forward Alyssa Thomas had 24 points, a game-high 12 rebounds, four assists, four blocks (matching a career high) and two steals to help push Maryland to its eighth straight win and 14th in 15 games. Junior center Alicia DeVaughn added 13 points, including 9-for-9 from the foul line, and nine rebounds, and junior guard Katie Rutan and freshman center Malina Howard scored 10 points apiece.
"I thought we had a slow start," Terps coach Brenda Frese said. "Whether that was a byproduct of having the bye week, I thought BC came in here and played really hard. I thought they were aggressive and really made us work, but the second half, we were really able to put our stamp all over the game."
In owning advantages of 43-26 in rebounding, 20-5 on fast-break points and 19-7 on second-chance points, Maryland (18-3, 8-1 ACC) moved into second place in the conference, leapfrogging North Carolina after the Tar Heels lost to first-place Duke, 84-63, on Sunday in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Terps shot 50 percent, made 20 of 27 free throws and committed just four of their 13 turnovers in the second half. They also matched their season high for points against ACC opponents and converted 14 turnovers into 17 points.
It was the Terps, though, who were careless with the ball soon after tip-off, and Boston College zoomed to a 15-7 lead. Frese called a timeout with 12 minutes, 22 seconds left in the first half, and Maryland responded with an 11-0 run for an 18-15 lead.
The Terps never trailed again and increased the margin to double figures for good with a 7-0 run in the second half. Hawkins scored six of those points, with her two foul shots putting Maryland ahead 60-45. Hawkins, who collected all five of her offensive rebounds in the second half, made a layup for a 64-51 lead, and five straight points from Thomas provided an 18-point buffer.
"It was just coming in at halftime and being challenged by Coach," Hawkins said. "We weren't really playing hard enough. We came out flat. Just coming out with better energy [in the second half], and I think that's what we did."
Boston College stayed within reach in the first half thanks to 5-for-11 shooting from 3-point range before losing for the fifth time in six games. The Eagles (9-12, 3-7) have lost three in a row to Maryland and 13 of 15 in the all-time series.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun