Hicks scores 28 to lead Maryland women, 90-71 Star center dooms Duke after benching

COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland women's basketball coach Chris Weller said after the team's loss to Wake Forest on Tuesday that she was unhappy with her team's interior defense.

To prove her point, Weller benched Jessie Hicks, Maryland's center and an All-America candidate, for the start of last night's game with Duke.


Hicks apparently got the message, scoring a career-high 28 points to lead the Terrapins to a 90-71 victory over the Blue Devils before 1,655 at Cole Field House.

"I was not playing well, and I had to refocus myself," said Hicks.


Said Weller: "Jessie was struggling, and sometimes you play better to come off the bench. You get a better perspective of how the game is going and how things are developing. Besides, you know me. I do unusual things."

With the win, No. 7 Maryland (15-4, 7-3) remained in a second-place tie with Virginia, one game behind Atlantic Coast Conference leader North Carolina.

Guard Malissa Boles scored 17 points, and Bonnie Rimkus had 16 off the bench.

Hicks was excellent on both ends and was particularly effective at the foul line, where she was 12-for-17, a significant improvement over her customary 56 percent.

"She was very physical and very strong. It's very hard to get around her when she posts up," said Duke center Ziki Blanding.

The Blue Devils (9-10, 0-9), though overmatched, were game and were within eight points with 8:40 left, a huge step forward from their first meeting, in which Maryland romped, 82-51, in Durham.

"This is a good example to our players," said Duke coach Gail Goestenkors. "We feel much better about this game than when they came in and trounced us, but we have a long way to go."

After leading by as many as 15 early in the second half, Maryland watched Duke cut the lead to 59-51 with 8:40 left, before the Terps' 21-8 run put the game out of reach.


"Every time we would make a run, we'd get an easy shot near the basket and miss," said Goestenkors. "Against a great team like Maryland, you can't miss when you get the opportunities."

In the midst of the final run was Boles, who started the season slowly but has come on in the past five games.

"I'm just really concentrating on the defensive end. I'm so intense. I just want to get things done," said Boles, who had a career-high nine rebounds.

The first 10 minutes of the game won't likely show up in either team's highlight reel, with sloppy play and poor shooting in abundance.

The Blue Devils, who are last in the ACC, turned the ball over on eight of their first 11 possessions and scored four points in the first five minutes.

But the Terps didn't look much better, with five turnovers in their first 10 possessions.


However, once Hicks entered the game with 8:41 gone in the half, Maryland returned to more recognizable form. Hicks hit a turnaround with eight minutes left to trigger a 15-4 run that gave Maryland a 31-15 lead with 7:19 left.

Hicks contributed 10 points in the half, but got help from Boles, who poured in 11 to pace the Terps to a 41-28 lead.