The eighth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team recovered from a deflating start Sunday against No. 5 Duke to complete a stirring comeback in the final minute for a 63-61 victory that was the Terps' most satisfying win this season.
An announced Comcast Center crowd of 15,150, the eighth-largest in both Atlantic Coast Conference and school history, rose for the closing moments, when Blue Devils sophomore forward Haley Peters had the ball at the left corner, her team trailing by two. Peters released a 3-point attempt, but Alyssa Thomas swooped in to block the shot at the buzzer, and Maryland celebrated its fifth win in six games and its first over a Top 10 team.
In sending Duke to its first ACC loss this season and ending its 16-game conference winning streak, Maryland got a game-high 19 points from junior forward Tianna Hawkins, who scored the Terps' final five points, including a put-back with 15 seconds to play for the final margin.
Hawkins, the NCAA leader in field-goal percentage, shot 9-for-14 and added nine rebounds, all offensive. Sophomore guard Laurin Mincy had 17 points, and senior center Lynetta Kizer was the third Maryland player in double figures with 12points and nine rebounds.
"There is nothing better than beating Duke," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said three days after collecting career win No.300.
The Terps (23-4, 10-4 ACC) were able to do so despite 19 turnovers, 14 of which came in the first half, when Maryland absorbed an early barrage. Within the first eight minutes, Maryland trailed 17-5 thanks to sophomore guard Chelsea Gray (16points), whose two 3-pointers and eight points during a 11-1 run had the Terps scrambling.
Maryland countered with an 11-2 flurry that featured seven points from Mincy, who had eight points on 3-for-13 shooting, including 1-for-7 from 3-point range, in an 80-72 road loss to the Blue Devils on Jan. 22. Mincy made three of 3-pointers Sunday in addition to going 4-for-4 from the foul line and collecting five rebounds.
Maryland had multiple chances to take the lead in the last minutes before intermission, but Duke was one step ahead until freshman guard Brene Moseley (seven points, six assists, one turnover) and Mincy connected on consecutive 3-pointers 39 seconds apart late in the second half.
Mincy's 3 with 5:21 to play gave Maryland a 53-50 lead, and another with 3:36 left made it 58-54. But the Blue Devils surged back in front with five consecutive points. Freshman center Elizabeth Williams (19 points, seven rebounds, three blocks) made three of four free throws in that burst, and when Hawkins was called for a charge, Duke (22-4, 13-1) had a chance to expand the margin.
But Williams missed a jumper, and Kizer did the same for Maryland before Hawkins carved out space underneath to secure her eighth rebound, followed by a put-back while getting fouled. Hawkins made the bonus free throw with 43 seconds to play.
"Coach challenged us to get on the boards," said Hawkins, who leads the ACC in rebounds at 9.7 per game. "So my main focus was making sure I get on the boards, and I was able to make a three-point play."
The drama didn't end there, though, with Gray driving past senior guard Kim Rodgers for the tying layup with 21 seconds to play. Frese immediately called timeout to set up the final possession and instructed her players, she revealed later, to hold for the final shot.
But Thomas sprinted down the court and attempted a layup in traffic that missed. Hawkins, though, was in position again for her final rebound and field goal that set up the frantic conclusion to a game in which Maryland outrebounded Duke 45-36, including 23-16 offensively.
"Absolutely the difference in the game," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "No question. Not only the rebounding differential, but the offensive rebounding. No excuse for that."
NO. 8 MARYLAND 63, NO. 5 DUKE 61
Percentages: FG .383, FT .733. 3-point goals: 4-12, .333 (Gray 2-4, Scheer 1-1, Peters 1-2, Liston 0-2, Selby 0-3). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 4 (Williams 3, Peters). Turnovers: 15 (Gray 5, Williams 4, Vernerey 2, Peters 2, Selby). Steals: 12 (Gray 3, Selby 3, Peters 2, Scheer 2, Johnson, Williams). Technical fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .381, FT .625. 3-point goals: 5-15, .333 (Mincy 3-6, Moseley 1-2, Thomas 1-3, Rodgers 0-1, Kizer 0-1, Barrett 0-2). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 2 (Thomas, Hawkins). Turnovers: 19 (Thomas 5, Mincy 4, DeVaughn 2, Kizer 2, Barrett 2, Hawkins 2, Rodgers, Moseley). Steals: 4 (Kizer 2, Thomas, Hawkins). Technical fouls: None.
A—15,150. Officials—Sue Blauch, Angie Lewis, Roy Gulbeyan.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun