Brenda Frese wasn't about to let No. 10 Maryland relive its indignation of three years ago against Towson. That's when her nationally ranked Terrapins came to the Towson Center for an early season tuneup only to watch the Tigers pull off perhaps the biggest upset in school history.
This time around, there would be no letdowns.
Alyssa Thomas had a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds in just 23 minutes, as Maryland held host Towson without a basket for spans of more than 8 minutes in the first half and 6 minutes in the second, building an insurmountable early lead on its way to an 88-43 win.
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Towson University, 8000 York Rd, Towson, MD 21252, USA
"Different team. Different group," said Frese, whose squad fell to Towson on Dec. 10, 2009. "I like the way this team locks in and really focuses."
All told, four Terps scored in double figures, including guard Katie Rutan, who came off the bench to contribute a season-high 16.
The Tigers, meanwhile, managed their lowest offensive output this season, shooting just 29 percent from the field.
"I felt like in the first half we missed a lot of shots in the paint that we could've gotten down," Towson coach Joe Mathews said. "Against a team like this, you have to get those down. It's going to be a struggle to score consistently anyway, but you certainly … have got to get the three-, four-, five-footers to go down for you if you're going to have a chance."
The Terps got a scare when Thomas, their All-America forward, jammed a finger on her left hand going for a loose ball with 3:35 left in the first half. She left the game in apparent pain and remained on the bench the remainder of the half with two middle fingers taped together, but returned to the court after halftime.
"I jammed my finger pretty bad," Thomas said. "It's a little sore. Nothing a little ice won't fix."
Said Frese: "It takes [a lot] for Alyssa to come off the floor, so obviously there's great concern when you see her in pain."
Towson (4-4) has dropped three straight overall after a 4-1 start.
In its last game before final exams, Towson got schooled.
Thomas scored seven points in the first 3:58, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key, as Maryland ran out to a 13-4 lead.
The Terps' real surge, however, came minutes later. Up by four, they embarked on an 18-2 run, holding Towson without a field goal for the next 8:01 to take a 33-13 lead. Thomas scored eight during the stretch, with guard Rutan coming off the bench to make a pair of 3-pointers.
The Tigers, meanwhile, managed little against Maryland's taller, more athletic defenders. Leading scorer Tanisha McTiller, who had scored 25 and 24 points her previous two games, respectively, finished with a season-low eight points on 3-for-12 shooting.
Guard Ciara Webb (Patterson) led Towson with 12.
But Maryland wasn't done, scoring 21 straight points early in the second half while holding the Tigers scoreless for 6:01.
"I thought we were able to turn up our defensive intensity late in the first half going into the second half, and really started locking down and creating more possessions," Frese said.
They also made an impression on Mathews.
"I still think they're a Final Four threat," Mathews said. "But they have to have a lot of luck in terms of health. They're an ankle sprain away from trouble."