COLLEGE PARK — Playing its first game in a week, the sixth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team overcame balky early shooting and got valuable contributions from its bench to pull away from Syracuse, 77-62, on Thursday night in front of 3,777 at Comcast Center.
The Terps won their 13th straight game and moved to 3-0 all time against Syracuse, which is in its first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Maryland, meanwhile, is playing its final season in the ACC before departing next year for the Big Ten Conference.
Senior forward Alyssa Thomas finished with game highs of 19 points, 11 rebounds and three steals for her NCAA-leading 14th double double, and freshman center Brionna Jones (Aberdeen) had a career-high 18 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Brene Moseley and freshman forward Shatori Walker-Kimbrough each added 10 points.
"I thought we were really, really good defensively in the first half," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "We made a lot of plays for each other, really made it difficult for them to be able to score. [It's] exciting because that's something we've been working extremely hard as a team, to be able to see us really connect on that and coming together from the defensive end."
The Terps (15-1, 3-0) got 44 points from their reserves, committed a season-low nine turnovers and had 14 steals. They had advantages in points off turnovers (30-10), second-chance points (21-9) and points in the paint (44-30). Maryland also had all 10 players who got into the game score at least two points in the Terps' first meeting with Syracuse since 1984.
Brianna Butler led the Orange (12-5, 1-3) with 14 points but missed 10 of 16 shots and committed five of her team's 21 turnovers. Alexis Peterson added 12 points and was the only other Syracuse player to reach double digits.
Maryland took the lead for good midway through the first half and then responded when the Orange trimmed a 19-point margin to 48-38 with 14:41 left in regulation. From there, Jones converted a three-point play, and after Cornella Fondren's layup for the Orange, Thomas made a jumper and one of two foul shots.
Jones sank a layup moments later, and Maryland went on to score seven points in a row to go up 63-41, its largest lead of the game. The Orange clawed back again, getting within 69-59 with 4:47 remaining, but Maryland reeled off eight straight points.
"You never know when your number is called, and tonight I was just ready and prepared," said Moseley, who had seven assists and three steals and shot 4-for-6 from the field. "Syracuse, we knew they were going to be pressuring us, and that would allow us an opportunity to be able to control the game and control the pace."
The Terps started the second leg of a season-long three-game conference homestand by missing 10 of 11 shots before Thomas collected an offensive rebound and scored. That basket triggered a stretch during which Maryland made 13 of 17 field goals, including Thomas' jumper to take the lead for good, at 14-12 with 12:09 left in the half.
Thomas' field goal was part of a 10-0 run, and Maryland followed that burst by scoring nine of the next 11 points, sparked by Walker-Kimbrough's three-point play.
"I think it makes it really hard for teams to guard us and just to scout us when we have so many people getting involved," Thomas said. "I think Syracuse really had a tough time on who to key in on."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun