COLLEGE PARK -- If last night's resounding 67-50 win over Duke is any indication, it might be too soon to write off the Maryland women's basketball team.
The Terps (11-8, 6-4) extended their fledgling winning streak to three games and played their best game in weeks. It came at the right time, the beginning of a critical four-game homestand, which includes a Top 25 opponent (Rutgers) and three teams near them in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings (Duke, Clemson, North Carolina State).
"Maybe this was one of our best games of the year," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "Each game we've played the last two weeks, I feel we've been getting better and better. We've been keying on tempo and also keying on defense."
The Terps played brilliant defense, holding the Blue Devils (14-6, 6-5) to 34 percent field-goal shooting -- the 10th time this season Maryland has kept an opponent below 40 percent from the floor -- while forcing 25 turnovers.
"In the second half, I felt like we were overwhelmed," said Duke coach Gail Goestenkors. "With a team like Maryland, you can't give them 25 extra opportunities."
And, for a change, the Maryland offense functioned at close to all cylinders with 42 points in the second half on 61 percent shooting.
Senior center Monica Adams played her best overall game of the year, scoring 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds and six steals.
"I think we've progressed a lot and we seem to be on a roll where things are going our way," said Adams.
The Terps came out of the dressing room at the half with a 12-4 run punctuated by a steal and coast-to-coast layup from Adams and the first three-pointer of junior point guard Karon Ferguson's career, which gave Maryland a 37-27 lead.
Duke patched together three straight baskets to pull within four, but when forwards Tyish Hall and Zeki Blanding each picked up her fourth foul within one minute of each other, the Terps exploited the opportunity inside.
Adams connected on a lay-in and a banker, and Andrew, who has not played well in the second halves of most games this season, scored five of her 12 total points to power Maryland to a 52-39 lead.
"Maryland did a great job in the second half," said Goestenkors. "Their post players dominated us. They shot the lights out, but they also got great shots."
The first half was played at a distinctly slower speed as the defenses and a combination of 18 turnovers kept each team from getting a consistent transition game going.
The Blue Devils didn't post a score until nearly five minutes of the half had passed, but the Terps could only muster six points of their own during that span.
When the Blue Devils finally did get going, they found success inside, with all but five of their 23 points coming within eight feet of the basket.
Kesha Camper and Adams were about the only consistent Maryland offensive threats throughout the half. Adams had six points, all in the first 10 minutes. Camper came off the bench to hit two baseline jumpers in the last minute to join Adams with six.
The Terps led 25-23 at half, despite the fact that Rimkus, the second-leading scorer in the league, played just eight minutes and scored only four points.