No. 5 Maryland 81, No. 22 Texas A&M 74

Maryland’s players didn’t panic when they fell behind by 18 in

the first half and trailed by 11 midway through the second. These

Terrapins have proven they can come back from any deficit, and it’s

a big reason why they’re within a game of the Final Four.

Laurin Mincy had 21 points and a career-best 12 rebounds to help

Maryland rally past defending national champion Texas A&M 81-74

on Sunday in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament’s Raleigh

Regional.

Alyssa Thomas added 21 points and nine rebounds for the

second-seeded Terps (31-4), who fought their way back and held the

Aggies (24-11) to just one basket over the final 7 1/2 minutes.

”This team knows and has the confidence it can come back

against anyone,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said.

The Terrapins rallied from 20 down early in the second half to

beat Georgia Tech in January, then overcame a 10-point deficit in

the first half to beat the Yellow Jackets on the road a month

later. They also came back from 12 down in the first half to top

Duke in February and trailed Louisville by nine in the first half

of their last NCAA game.

The Terrapins have won 10 straight and 13 of 14 since a home

loss to Virginia Tech on Jan. 26. They’re back in a regional final

for the first time since 2009 when they were in Raleigh as a No. 1

seed. They’ll face top-seeded Notre Dame with a chance to reach the

Final Four for the first time since winning the national

championship in 2006.

”I do feel this group has all the intangibles to be able to win

it all,” Frese said. ”It’s a team that genuinely cares about each

other, has each other’s back and is really selfless. They don’t

care who receives the attention. It’s very similar to the team that

we had in 2006.”

Senior Lynetta Kizer, who had 15 points and the go-ahead basket

with 3:29 left, was a freshman on the ’09 team that lost to

Louisville in the regional final. She wasn’t ready for this year’s

team to play its final game.

”They kept telling us to board and they kept telling us to

defend,” Kizer said. ”Anything I personally needed to do to help

this team take a step forward, that’s what I tried to do because

like I said – I don’t want our season with the talent we have in

that locker room to end here.”

Maryland finished with a 42-30 rebounding advantage, which led

to an 18-5 edge in second-chance points. The Terrapins went ahead

to stay on Kizer’s score inside off a feed from Brene Moseley that

made it 75-74, which started an 8-0 run to close the game.

Thomas fed Mincy on the break after a turnover for a transition

layup. Thomas followed that with a jumper in the lane with 50

seconds left after an offensive rebound from Mincy to make it

79-74, which all but sealed the win as the Aggies missed a series

of desperate 3-pointers in the final seconds.

Maryland also played the final 7 minutes without starter Tianna

Hawkins, who suffered an apparent bruised hip when she went down in

the paint. Frese said afterward that Hawkins was probably OK to

return, but she didn’t want to break up the groove the Terrapins

seemed to have in their comeback.

Freshman Alexia Standish scored 19 points to lead third-seeded

Texas A&M, which could only lament letting two double-digit

leads get away as foul trouble added up.

”They really picked up their defense,” Standish said. ”At the

beginning, we got a lot of open looks. Their defense, we just got

by them a lot easier. But they picked it up in the second

half.”

Texas A&M got off to a fast start, jumping to a 12-2 lead

and pushing that margin to 18 twice in the first half. But Maryland

closed the half on a 21-6 run – including a pair of baskets from

Thomas in the final 2 1/2 minutes – to trail just 44-41 at

halftime.

Thomas scored again to start the second half and pull the Terps

within one, but Texas A&M came right back with eight straight

points to regain control.

The Aggies led 72-65 on Kelsey Bone’s layup with 7:49 left, but

they managed just one field goal – a drive from Standish with 3:48

left – the rest of the game.

”You’ve got to have that killer instinct,” Aggies coach Gary

Blair said. ”We had a team on the ropes and didn’t put them

away.”