No. 12 Maryland 72, Quinnipiac 52

Nothing Quinnipiac experienced while steamrolling the Northeast

Conference could adequately prepare the Bobcats for their NCAA

tournament debut against Maryland.

After getting off to a fine start, Quinnipiac withered under a

barrage of rebounds and baskets by the taller Terrapins, who

advanced to the second round with a 72-52 victory Saturday.

Felicia Barron scored 13 for No. 13 seed Quinnipiac (30-3), the

NEC champions. The Bobcats were unbeaten since a 74-57 defeat

against Georgia Tech on Dec. 29.

But none of those 22 teams had the height or talent of the

Terrapins (25-7), who finished tied for second in the Atlantic

Coast Conference.

”They’re a lot longer than we are, that’s for sure,”

Quinnipiac forward Brittany McQuain said. ”If we had played

against those bodies all year long we definitely would have been

more prepared.”

Clearly, no one in the NEC can match Maryland’s 1-2 punch of

Alyssa Thomas (29 points, 13 rebounds) and Tianna Hawkins (23

points, 16 rebounds).

”They are great players,” McQuain said. ”Let me tell you

what, Thomas is outstanding. She is very comfortable with the ball.

Being on the floor with talent like that is kind of humbling. We

did really extremely well in the NEC, not losing a game, and then

coming here and playing against a really good ACC team kind of

opens our eyes a little bit.”

The fourth-seeded Terrapins trailed by nine in the first half,

scrambled to go up 27-23 at the break and dominated the second half

against the smaller Bobcats, who couldn’t stop Thomas’ repeated

forays into the lane.

”You just give her the ball and let her go to work,” Maryland

coach Brenda Frese said. ”She’s like a life vest – she can bail

out anyone and anything. You saw her versatility. She was able to

change the game. They didn’t have an answer.”

Despite the loss, the Bobcats were delighted to become the first

Quinnipiac women’s basketball team to play in the NCAA

tournament.

”This is clearly a top 10 team that was a different level that

we hadn’t seen, but this was the stage we were ready for,” Bobcats

coach Tricia Fabbri said of Maryland. ”We have now set a new

standard and raised the level of excellence for this program going

forward.”

Quinnipiac played well for much of the first half, but very

little went right for the Bobcats after that. Maryland opened the

second half with a 14-3 run to go up 41-26, and Quinnipiac couldn’t

score with enough consistency to make up the difference.

”I don’t think they’ve seen a team like us, that’s able to

rebound and run,” Thomas said. ”They found it very hard to match

up with all of us.”

During the first 10 minutes after the break, Quinnipiac was 2

for 22 from the floor while being outscored 22-9. The Bobcats

finished with a 23 percent field-goal percentage on 17-for-74

shooting.

”We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” lamented guard

Gillian Abshire, who had more turnovers than baskets (2-1).

Both teams had 22 rebounds at halftime, but Maryland finished

with a 59-41 advantage. Alicia DeVaughn grabbed a career-high 17

for the Terps.

”I think we were able to wear them down. You could see that in

the second half,” Frese said. ”We still wanted to continue to

push tempo. Obviously we were disappointed in our rebounding at

halftime. Credit them. They were physical, and I thought they gave

us their best punch in the first half. But I do think our size, our

physicality, our length, athleticism, Alyssa Thomas got to them.

She gives you about three extra bodies out there in terms of her

play.”

Thomas scored 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting in a shaky first

half for the Terrapins, who needed a closing 15-2 run to take the

lead.

The 11:15 a.m. start produced shoddy play by both teams at the

outset. Although the Bobcats missed seven of their first eight

shots, Maryland started 4 for 20 from the floor. The Terrapins

trailed 21-12 before Thomas made a layup to spark a 9-0 spurt that

included five points by Hawkins.

Maryland went 1 for 9 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Quinnipiac’s Ellen Cannon connected on all three of her 3-point

tries before halftime.