Terps Top #11 Hoyas

Led by Alyssa Thomas' 19 points and 15 rebounds, the Terps defeated the Hoyas 72-53.

The last time Maryland faced Georgetown, Sugar Rodgers scored 34 points and the Hoyas knocked the Terps out of the NCAA Tournament in the second round for a disappointing exit.

That was last season. And if today's game is any indication, this year is going to be very different.

Behind swarming defense, an energized crowd, and star performances from Alyssa Thomas and Tianna Hawkins, No. 10 Maryland ran all over No. 11 Georgetown for a big 72-53 victory.

"The big thing for us is this is a new season. It's a new team,” said Coach Brenda Frese. “They're creating their identity. Obviously, there is a lot of pride in this locker room in terms of taking things to heart. This is a new season and we want to build on this season to see how far we can go.”

The Terps opened up the game with a fast start, going up 10-4 on a fast-break lay-up from Laurin Mincy. The lead was stretched to eight when Anjale Barrett hit a three-pointer, but Georgetown quickly started to charge back. Five straight points by Rubylee Wright brought the Hoyas to within one, despite the fact that Sugar Rodgers was on the bench with two fouls.

After a timeout, Maryland re-grouped and used some balanced scoring to stretch the lead to six. Then, with just seconds left on the clock, Alicia DeVaughn sunk a lay-up off the glass to beat the buzzer and send the Terps into the locker room up 34-26 at the break.

Maryland was out-rebounded 16-to-12 in the first half, but that would quickly change. The Terps were all over the boards in the second stanza, racking up 15 in the first eight minutes alone despite still being without suspended center Lynetta Kizer.

The Terrapins continued to push the ball in transition every chance they got, leading to several fast-break opportunities and many trips to the free-throw line.

With 13:30 left Maryland was up by 10 before going on an 8-1 run sparked by a three by Kim Rodgers and two jumpers by Thomas to make the score 54-37. The game was beginning to get out of reach for the Hoyas, who seemed to be stymied at times by the Terps defensive efforts.

With six minutes left, Maryland went up 21 and the crowd of 4,084 at Comcast could sense that a win was drawing near. Georgetown pressed in the last few minutes, but it would not matter. The Terps walked off victorious, 72-53.

“I thought [it was] obviously a terrific team win, the balance we had, the defense we displayed,” said Frese. “I think Sugar showed that she was human tonight, and I thought we played an extremely talented team.”

Sugar Rodgers, who was guarded mostly by Mincy throughout the game, did not score her first points until she made a lay-up with 8:08 left in the game. The star had an uncharacteristically bad night, shooting one-for-12 from the floor and scoring just four points. Frese attributed part of the result to Maryland's defense on her.

“I thought the defense that Laurin and Kim and the rotations we had defensively were tremendous. They obviously made [Sugar] have to work for every shot that she took, and did a tremendous job tonight,” said Frese.

Georgetown Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy and Rodgers herself, however, felt differently.

I think [Maryland's defense] did an OK job on Sugar. I think Sugar just had an off night … She's human,” said Williams-Flournoy.

Thomas finished the game with 19 points and 15 rebounds, while Hawkins followed right behind her with 17 points and 14 rebounds. DeVaughn and Barrett also finished with double-figures for the Terps, with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

As a team, Maryland out-rebounded the Hoyas 42-to-31, and shot 45.6% from the floor compared to 33.3% for Georgetown.

After getting beat by the Hoyas twice last season and now beating them today, there seems to be a rivalry brewing between the two teams.

“I think it is [a rivalry] with both schools being in the DMV area,” said Hawkins “There's always what team is better, who's going to beat who, and I think it is a rivalry. “

“I know that loss last year definitely motivated us to want to work harder and not let that happen again, so today we just wanted to protect our house,” said Thomas.

Frese feels that her teams' conditioning level has played a big role in their defensive presence early on in the season.

“We're in some of the best physical shape you could possibly be in,” she said. “And when you talk about being in that kind of shape that allows you defensively to do a lot of things. And this team as a whole, they've committed themselves with how they dot their 'I's' and cross their 'T's' in terms of preparation.“

If Maryland keeps up their high level of play, Frese sees a lot of good things in the team's future.

“Like I told them in the locker room, it's the second game of the season. So obviously the display that we showed tonight, there's special things ahead for this team as long as we stay humble and hungry in our pursuit.”

Maryland next hosts Towson on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

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