Although the Terps began the game with their characteristic intensity, they struggled to effectively channel their efforts, and their eagerness instead manifested in the form of missed layups, foul troubles, and hasty passes.
The Terps were also saddled with the challenge of competing without leading scorer and freshman sensation Alyssa Thomas, who played just 7 minutes in the game and was sidelined with 11:57 remaining in the first half after experiencing back pain.
She's day-to-day, said Maryland head coach Brenda Frese. She took a hit in the Georgia Tech game and she's been going through therapy in that for the last two days...so I credit her, at halftime, having to make an honest assessment of what she needed to do, and she couldn't give a hundred percent.
Obviously with her play, she's someone that's active on the glass, Frese added. And when she's not able to pound the glass and get in there, you can tell, with the way she was moving today.
The Terps found themselves down by 12 points with 6:56 remaining in the first half after senior Brittany Strachan, who led the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage last season, sank a 3-pointer to put the Wolfpack up 33-21.
Sparked by Rodgers, who also hit a 3-pointer on the next possession, the Terps went on an 11-0 run in the following 3 minutes, but still could not capture the lead, trailing NC State 39-36 at halftime.
However, the Terps, never dissuaded by a deficit, began the second half with an elevated sense of confidence and renewed determination and never looked back.
With 12:22 remaining, a 3-pointer by freshman Myisha Goodwin-Coleman would mark the only time that the Wolfpack would score for the next 6 minutes, as the Terps sealed victory with a 21-0 run.
A layup by Kizer and a 3-pointer by Rodgers sparked the run, and both led the team in scoring, as Kizer matched her season-high with 22 points as part of a double-double and Rodgers posted 14 points.
The veterans shone under pressure to advance the lead and were credited with the team's improved performance in the second half.
I thought our leadership with our three juniors, coming out with their voice, their confidence, their 'swag' they like to call it, I thought was the difference, said Frese.
Barrett, who contributed 6 assists and 3 steals, served as a seasoned vocal presence, exhibiting her characteristic calmness that proved vital for the Terps' turnaround.
We came out very anxious today. When we started, we were attacking and getting what we wanted, we just weren't finishing, said Barrett. I told everybody, 'we gotta calm down, relax, and we're okay. Just keep being aggressive and things will fall.' In the second half, we came out, attacked, got the same things we got in the first half, but we focused.
That's when we started playing with 'swag,' playing Maryland basketball, she added.
Kizer, who played just 7 minutes in the first half due to committing 2 fouls early on, earned 18 of her 22 points in the second half. Accepting the responsibility to shoulder a greater scoring load, Kizer continuously opened herself up for strong looks in the interior, helping the Terps to outscore the Wolfpack 50-16 in the paint.
Kim and [Anjale] said they were going to give me the ball and they did a great job, and I just wanted to finish for them, said Kizer.
We did a better job starting the game, keeping the ball out of the paint, and then as time went on we were a step slow, said NC State head coach Kellie Harper, whose team did not score any points in the paint in the second half. Couldn't quite get there.
Kizer also intensified her rebounding efforts, grabbing 9 offensive rebounds and a total of 13, contributing to the Terps' success in outrebounding the Wolfpack 51-28.
In addition to the value of Barrett's wisdom and Kizer's determination, Frese ascribes much of the team's confidence to Rodgers' play.
You can see our team start to relax, Frese said of Rodgers' 3-pointers. We feed off of it, it gives confidence to all her other teammates, and you start to see other players attacking and being aggressive.
Kim's threes are always so timely, Frese added. She loves the pressure, [and] players that are extremely successful, they want the pressure.
The Terps held junior Bonae Holston, who averages 18 points per game in conference play, to just 4 points in the second half and 12 points in total.
The Wolfpack shot 51.7% from the field in the first half, but shot just 24.0% under pressure from the confident Terps in the second half. The Terps outscored the Wolfpack 52-20 in the second half.
You have to play a smart game to be able to compete with Maryland, said Harper. We didn't do that tonight.
The Terps will travel to No. 18/21 Miami on Thursday, February 10. The Terps and Hurricanes will tip off at 7:00 p.m.