Terps' Depth Stuns Wake Forest

Led in scoring by Thomas, Rodgers, and Hawkins, the Terps earned a solid win over the Demon Deacons.

On Friday, January 28, the No. 14/13 Maryland Terrapins (17-3, 4-2 ACC) continued to reap the benefits of their lauded depth and size in a solid 75-44 victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-12, 1-5 ACC).

The Terps began the game with a few defensive lapses, including failing to close out on 3-point shooters and allowing the Demon Deacons to achieve a momentary 4-0 rebounding advantage, propelling a 7-0 run. The run decreased the Terps' initial lead to just one point, 13-12, with 11:52 remaining in the first half and presented the possibility that the smaller Demon Deacons, winless on the road this season, would attempt to stay in contention through perimeter shooting.

However, the Terps returned from a timeout to immediately intensify their defensive mentality, provoking 3 steals in under 3 minutes, and extinguishing any speculation about a close game.

Reigning ACC Rookie of the Week Alyssa Thomas and sophomore Tianna Hawkins triggered the Terps' resurgence, both earning double-doubles and easily dominating Wake Forest's interior players. Forward Brittany Waters, who normally leads the Demon Deacons with 11.5 points per game, recorded just 3 points against the Terps.

Thomas' game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds constituted her fifth double-double in six ACC games and Hawkins' 12 points and 12 rebounds accounted for her third double-double of the season. The Terps outrebounded the Demon Deacons 54-35 in total.

Wake Forest head coach Mike Petersen joined the ranks of many of the Terps' opposing coaches in acknowledging the seemingly unstoppable combination of Thomas' physicality and relentless competitive drive.

She's really long, really athletic, and just makes plays in transition. She makes plays that don't need a play,” said Petersen. “She goes and gets loose balls, she runs and finishes on the break.”

“And with the lineup they're playing right now...you don't have to set a screen to get her a mismatch...who are you going to guard her with?”

Following Thomas and Hawkins' efforts, junior Kim Rodgers calmly buried three consecutive 3-pointers, made a layup, and connected on a pair of free throws to contribute 13 points in a 17-0 run that Frese believes ultimately ensured victory for the Terps, as they went up 42-18 at halftime.

The Demon Deacons scored just 6 points in the final 10 minutes of the first half, and the introduction of Rodgers as an additional scoring threat noticeably overwhelmed the Terps' opponent.

“I really felt like that stretch was our depth, really wearing them out,” Frese said of the run to end the first half. “I thought just the kind of shape that we're in, the depth we can play with and how hard we can play on the floor was absolutely the difference.”

Rodgers finished the game with 17 points, just one point shy of matching her career-high.

In the second half, Frese took advantage of the valuable opportunity to more evenly distribute playing time, allowing her reserves crucial conference experience.

Thomas, who averages a team-high 33.8 minutes per game in conference play, was limited to 24 minutes while sophomore reserve Essence Townsend recorded a season-high 10 minutes.

Freshman walk-on Sequoia Austin entered the game with 4 minutes remaining and attempted five consecutive 3-pointers before finally sinking a pull-up jumper on the next possession, eliciting thunderous applause from the crowd and animated cheers from her teammates.

“Like I told the team afterwards, the fact that every single player got to play, I think is very meaningful,” said Frese. “Because I know how hard every player on this roster works in practice to make us better each and every day. And it's very meaningful for us to be a dominant team that we have tremendous depth, and that means everybody on our team and on our roster being ready to play.”

Reflecting on her young team's progress even since the beginning of the season, Frese smiles as she muses on the Terps' future.

“I really believe this team doesn't really even understand quite yet how good they can be,” said Frese. “We're just tapping it right now.”

The Terps will host Longwood on Sunday, January 30, at 2:00 p.m. before resuming conference play at No. 25 Georgia Tech on Thursday,

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