Finally, after more than 25 minutes of play, a plan for success became evident for the Maryland women's basketball team. Sophomore forward Lynetta Kizer received an entry pass, muscled up a shot that went in and was fouled in the process. She made the ensuing free throw, revealing the path that would help the Terrapins trudge to victory.
The shooting accuracy that buoyed Maryland and UNC-Wilmington during the first half Tuesday night at Comcast Center abandoned both squads out of the break. But the Terrapins eventually stopped settling for long-range shots and began funneling the ball into the post. Consequently, Maryland (11-2) was able to claim a 67-61 win in the final contest of the Terrapin Classic.
"I told [the players] I thought there was a point in the second half where we were kind of going to go one way or the other," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I thought we did a nice job keeping our poise and our composure and being able to manage the game, especially down at the end of the game."
Nearly six minutes into the second half, the Terrapins had missed all six of their shots and turned the ball over five times. Their lead had been cut to three points. Maryland built and sustained its lead in the first half with 3-point marksmanship, but the Terrapins could not carry their offensive momentum out of halftime.
Maryland's sluggish defensive effort ensured that the game remained close until the final horn sounded. UNC-Wilmington guard Julia Finlay made a 3-pointer from the corner with just less than two minutes to go to pull the Seahawks (5-6) within six, but that was as close as the visitors would get.
Terps freshman forward Tianna Hawkins recorded eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while Kizer finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Freshman forward Diandra Tchatchouang scored a team-high 14 points. Maryland's frontcourt saved the team during a second half in which the Terrapins shot 0-for-8 from beyond the arc.
Maryland sophomore guard Kim Rodgers made a 3-pointer to put the Terrapins up by nine with just less than 16 minutes remaining in the first half. Rodgers, who tallied nine points in the first five minutes, left the game moments later holding her left hand and did not return. Frese said Rodgers hurt her left ring finger and would undergo an X-ray to determine whether the injury was a break or a fracture.
Subsequently, UNC-Wilmington found its collective stroke and steadily crept back into contention. The Seahawks went on a 12-1 run late in the first half to cut Maryland's lead to four. UNC-Wilmington shot 56.0 percent from the field before the intermission.
"It was important just getting out on them early," Kizer said. "We felt like we didn't play Maryland basketball in the first half. We were giving them a lot of opportunities."
Once UNC-Wilmington began devoting more attention to off-the-ball movement, the Seahawks generated more open looks. Maryland was able to preserve its first-half lead only because it was nearly equally efficient when it had the ball. The Terrapins shot 45.2 percent from the field and made 7 of 14 shots from 3-point range in the first half.
"We came in at halftime and just talked about effort," said senior guard Lori Bjork, who added 12 points. "You know, that's the first thing you have to do is just play hard. If you're not playing hard, you're not going to be very effective at anything. That's No. 1, defensively, and if you're willing to play hard, you can play good defense. I thought that was the emphasis in the second half."
SAINT JOSEPH'S @ MARYLAND
Sunday, 2 p.m.