Terps Earn First ACC Victory of the Season

The Terps got their first ACC win of the season, led by Thomas with 21 points and Hawkins with 19.

On Sunday, January 16, the Maryland Terrapins (14-3, 1-2 ACC) snapped a two-game losing streak and earned their first ACC win of the season, triumphing over the Clemson Tigers (8-11, 1-3 ACC), 80-59, in Littlejohn Coliseum.

Having recently experienced the painful consequences of poor shooting performances in their loss to Boston College on Thursday - in which they recorded season-lows in 3-point field goal percentage and free throw percentage - the Terps headed into Sunday’s match-up fully realizing the importance of finishing at the basket.

And against the Tigers, 3-point shooting and free throw shooting were, fittingly, essential to the Terps’ victory. In a relieving reversal of Thursday’s performance, the Terps’ shots were falling exactly when needed against Clemson.

The Terps and Tigers traded baskets for much of the first half, and the Tigers gained an edge on the Terps, leading 15-14, from back-to-back 3-pointers by the sharp-shooting senior Kirstyn Wright with just over twelve minutes remaining.

Wright’s proficiency from 3-point range threatened the Terps for the entire first half, as she made four 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.

The Terps trailed by as many as 6 points after the Tigers took the lead, and were down, 29-23, following a pair of made free throws by freshman Kelia Shelton with 5:49 remaining in the first half.

However, the Terps would not stay behind for long.

In the final five minutes of the half the Terps generated a 15-5 run to earn a 38-34 advantage at halftime. The run was initiated by a layup from freshman standout Alyssa Thomas, who once again proved to be a vital spark for the Terps throughout the game, and especially in the first half.

Thomas contributed 15 first half points and finished with a game-high 21 points, as well as 9 rebounds and a career-high 7 steals.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by freshman Laurin Mincy and junior Anjale Barrett followed Thomas’ layup, and gave the Terps their first lead since the twelve-minute mark.

Of the 15 points accumulated throughout the run, 5 points came from made free throws and 6 points resulted from made 3-pointers.

To begin the second half, neither the Terps nor the Tigers could initially maintain a solid lead.

Free throw shooting became even more important for the Terps, as they got to the line 23 times in the second half alone, and both teams seemed to be alternating appearances at the line each play.

For the night, the Terps reached season-highs in both made free throws and free throw attempts, earning 23 points from 38 opportunities for 60.5% shooting. The Tigers earned just 8 points from free throws for the entire night.

Cushioned by success from the free throw line, the Terps saw more noticeable gains from their post play and tenacious defense than they did against Boston College, when the achievements of the Terps’ advantage in the paint and defensive pressure were marred by their poor shooting spell.

Sophomore Tianna Hawkins came alive for the Terps in the second half, serving as a powerful interior presence and recording a season-high 19 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

Hawkins scored all of her points in the second half and seemed a steadying force, shooting 5-7 from the field and 9-11 from the free throw line to bring a sense of reliability for the Terps.

The Terps also intensified their defensive presence in the second half, holding the previously explosive Wright to just 4 points in the final 20 minutes.

The Terps also limited the Tigers’ leading scorer, senior Sthefany Thomas, who has been averaging 19 points per game in conference play, to just 6 points on 2-12 shooting from the field and 1-8 shooting from 3-point range.

For the night, the Terps grabbed 13 steals and forced the Tigers to turn the ball over 25 times, from which they gained 27 points.

Midway through the second half, the Terps had begun to substantially pull away, as Hawkins made two free throws to put the Terps up, 57-42.

However, the Tigers soon went on an 8-2 run to decrease the lead to single digits, 59-50, with 10:35 remaining.

Although the Tigers seemed to have the momentum, the Terps orchestrated a final push to capture permanent control of the lead and ultimately secure victory, going on a 21-9 run in the final ten minutes.

Mincy sparked the run with a fast break layup, while Thomas and Hawkins combined for 14 points in the Terps’ final surge.

The Terps outscored the Tigers 42-25 in the second half. For the night, they also outscored Clemson 40-28 in the paint and outrebounded the Tigers 37-32.

Bolstered by a more consistent shooting night, the Terps earned their 10th straight victory over the Tigers and will look to even their ACC record to 2-2 when they travel to Virginia on Friday, January 21.

The Terps and Cavaliers will tip off at 8:30 p.m.

TerrapinTimes Top Stories