No. 12 Maryland 72, Quinnipiac 52

For a while, it appeared as if little Quinnipiac had a chance to

hang with mighty Maryland.

Alyssa Thomas and the Terrapins would have none of it.

Thomas had 29 points and 13 rebounds, and Maryland spoiled

Quinnipiac’s debut in the NCAA women’s tournament by pulling away

to a 72-52 victory Saturday.

The fourth-seeded Terrapins (25-7) 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.”

Tianna Hawkins had 23 points and 16 rebounds for Maryland, which

will face Michigan State on Monday night. The fifth-seeded Spartans

advanced with a 55-47 win over Marist.

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

Northeast Conference champions. The Bobcats were unbeaten since a

74-57 defeat against Georgia Tech on Dec. 29.

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

Terrapins, 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.”

Quite clearly, the 6-foot-2 Thomas and 6-3 Hawkins were just too

good. Between them, they scored as many points as the entire

Quinnipiac roster.

”Being on the floor with talent like that is kind of

humbling,” McQuain said. ”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.”

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 field goals (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.