Second Half Surge Propels Terps Past Tigers

The Terps use a strong second half performance to beat Towson 72-47 Thursday.

While the Maryland women’s basketball team’s exhibition wins could be labeled as the freshmen’s collegiate debut, the Monmouth win as the first chance at Division I competition for the season, and the Georgetown loss as a valuable gauge for nationally ranked opponents, the Terps’ 72-47 win over Towson on Thursday night represented a more universal theme for the 2010-2011 season: redemption.

On December 10, 2009, the 2009-2010 Terps squad that had recently lost All-Americans Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver lost to Towson in a shocking 67-55 upset.

The loss to Towson, along with several other painfully uncharacteristic defeats that led to a 21-13 season and ineligibility for the NCAA tournament, has infamously helped to fuel a 2010-2011 team hungry for a chance to reclaim the Maryland legacy.

And on Thursday night, the stage had been set for one of the most comparable opportunities to prove that this year’s Terrapins, praised for their improved conditioning and nationally ranked recruiting class, really are going to be different from last year.

Although one of the assets the ‘reloaded’ Terps have boasted for the 2010-2011 season - a drastic height advantage - was clearly affirmed in the first half, it remained to be seen if the Terps were improved enough to prevent another upset.

The Terps struggled to gain a solid lead, and seemed inhibited by a lopsided reliance on their inside presence. Maryland went into halftime with a tenuous lead of just 29-26 and had scored 22 of their 29 points in the paint. All three leading scorers for the Terps going into halftime were post players: forwards Diandra Tchatchouang and Tianna Hawkins, and center Lynetta Kizer.

However, in the second half, fortified by more participatory guard play and renewed intensity, the Terps proved that this season, mentally and physically, they are not a team that can be upset by Towson.

Whether it was Dara Taylor’s relentless press, Natasha Cloud’s seemingly effortless passes, or Alicia DeVaughn’s persistent rebounding, the second half Terps showcased the motivation and skill that has been advertised for this season.

And although it soon became clear that the Terps would redeem themselves in the record books, the second half became emblematic of the 2010-2011 season redemptive season as a whole.

The Terps improved in virtually every statistical category from the first to second half.

Led by junior Kim Rodgers and sophomore Dara Taylor, guard play in the second half was much more involved, allowing the Terps to diversify their offense. Rodgers (6 points) and Taylor (5 points) both contributed all of their points in the second half. The Terps also improved from 1-3 from beyond the arc to 3-7.

Also led by Dara Taylor, who had 5 assists on the night, the Terps dished 10 assists in the second half compared to 4 in the first. The Terps increased their amount of steals from 7 to 10, and fast break points from 4 to 10. They also managed to lessen their turnovers by half, going from 12 in the first half to just 6 in the second.

Towson was led by Deree Fooks with 13 points, but the Terps also succeeded in decreasing her efficiency post-halftime, limiting her output from 8 points in the first half to 5 in the second.

“The second half it was all about [Maryland],” said Towson head coach Joe Mathews.

“I thought the first half we came out really flat,” said Maryland head coach Brenda Frese. “[But] I thought [we] did a great job responding and coming out with a different energy and intensity level in the second half.”

Although there are certainly tougher opponents ahead, the Terps’ victory over Towson solidified their theme for the season, and proved to Coach Frese once again the potential of this team and their ability to respond to a challenge.

“I think the chemistry of our team is tremendous,” said Frese. “And every time we get a chance to be out on the floor, it’s going to continue to grow.”

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