Thursday, April 24, 2014 12:14 PM
Photo by Daniel Kucin. Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas shoots Saturday in College Park. She scored 29 points and had 13 rebounds in the first-round game against Quinnipiac.
Published on: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
By Daniel Kucin
The Maryland Terrapins advanced to the third round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament after defeating Michigan State 74-49 on Monday.
In the tournament’s first round, Alyssa Thomas was a force to be reckoned with against Quinnipiac on Saturday in College Park. Thomas scored 29 points and posted 13 rebounds to lead the No. 4-seed Terrapins to a 72-52 victory over the Bobcats after starting the first-round game with a nine-point deficit.
“I don’t think they have seen a team like us. We were very hard to match up against,” Thomas said after the win. “In the first half, our defense was there, but our rebounding was a little short. So, we got in the huddle, and we talked about needing to rebound better and we knew we wanted the ball.”
Quinnipiac showed why they only lost two games all season by using every one of their players in a system called “Gold Rush,” coined by head coach Tricia Fabbri. This offensive philosophy enabled her to utilize her whole team, which in turn frustrated the Terps early and kept them within four points of retaking the lead at halftime.
“Not one of our starters sees over 26 minutes a game,” Fabbri said. “It’s allowed our first five to go out and play at an intense level for three or four minutes because they know they’re going to get rest and be able to go back in and be just as effective.”
However, the Bobcats plan seemingly backfired in the second half. The Terps quickly took control and asserted themselves down the stretch. Despite Quinnipiac scoring 17 more points off of the bench, Thomas and Tianna Hawkins carved through the middle of the floor, helping the Terps score a whopping 46 points in the paint.
Hawkins was the hometown favorite as a former Crusader for Riverdale Baptist, and she gave the Bobcats all they could handle: scoring 23 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Thomas admired Hawkins’ ability and what she has brought to their championship-caliber team in her senior year.
“Tianna’s been great,” Thomas said. “Her mentality on the court and how hard she works for her team. It’s been great having the opportunity to play with her. We just came out here and gave it our all to try and send her out on a good note.”
Quinnipiac never recovered — starting the second half missing two of their first 22 shots attempted and shot just over 23 percent from the floor.
Maryland had its largest lead of 26 points with just more than four minutes left in the contest as they cruised to a double-digit victory.
Maryland faces No.1-seed Connecticut on Saturday.