Terps Top Duke in Thriller, 63-61

Terps used 19 points and nine rebounds from Tianna Hawkins to top the Blue Devils 63-61.

With 10.5 seconds left, a crowd of 15,150 screaming, and her team with possession but down two, Duke Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie called timeout. She wanted to set up a play so that her point guard, Chelsea Gray, could get to the basket and tie up the game. Gray tried to drive to the right, but got shut down by Kim Rodgers and Maryland's defense and was forced to swing the ball out.

As the game clock ticked down, the ball made its way over to an open Haley Peters on the wing, who began to launch a three-point attempt that could win the game for the Blue Devils. Yet as the ball was leaving her hands, in swooped a leaping Alyssa Thomas, who blocked the shot at the buzzer and secured a wild 63-61 victory for No. 7 Maryland over No. 5 Duke.

The win gave the Terps a much-needed victory over a Top-10 team, and for Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese it happened against the perfect opponent.

There's nothing better than beating Duke,” she said.

But the Terrapins road to the win wasn't easy, especially as Duke opened up the game hot while Maryland struggled to put the ball in the basket. The Blue Devils went up 17-5 through the first eight minutes, as the Terps offense appeared non-existent.

It was ugly,” Frese said of her teams' slow start. “[Duke] was trying for the knockout punch. They came out, they were physical, they were swiping on every single dribble and we were turning the ball over … we kind of wanted to start with little things. The first thing was to rebound, and to be able to tighten up the turnovers. “

As Maryland tried to tighten up on offense, their defense tightened up as well. They held Duke to just two points over the next six minutes, allowing themselves to climb back to within three after Laurin Mincy hit two free throws.

The Terps kept battling, and went into halftime down 29-28, a fortunate deficit considering they had turned the ball over 14 times in the first half and their leading scorer, Alyssa Thomas, had just one point. Also unusual was Tianna Hawkins' line, as the forward did not record a single rebound in the half.

Frese said she challenged Hawkins at halftime to respond better, and the junior did not disappoint. She pulled in nine offensive rebounds in the second half, and was instrumental in Maryland's comeback down the stretch, including five points in the final forty-five seconds to win the game for her team. Naturally, they all came off of offensive boards.

“I told the team in the locker room this one was special for a lot of different reasons,” said Frese. “I think first and foremost was to have a game of this magnitude and the adversity that we faced in the first half and just to be able to see the heart and the character that we played with throughout a very difficult game.”

The Terps had fallen behind by as much as seven in the second half, but kept their composure and slowly chipped away before tying the game on a three-pointer by Brene Moseley with six minutes to go. Moseley, who has not typically seen much playing time late in big games, played several minutes down the stretch after Frese opted to play her in favor of senior point guard Anjale Barrett, who had some struggles today.

“You talk about 'Baby Bones' [Moseley] over here growing up and having her number called and just being confident to be able to come in here and want to make plays,” said Frese of the freshman. “She's fearless.”

Also coming up big late was Laurin Mincy, who hit two key three pointers in the closing minutes to help put her team ahead. Duke would rally to take a one point lead with a minute and a half left, but failed to extend their lead on the next possession, setting up Hawkins' game-winning points and Thomas' block in the final minute.

Hawkins finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Mincy scored 17 and Lynetta Kizer added 12 points and nine rebounds. Alyssa Thomas was held pretty quiet offensively, but grabbed 12 boards and had arguably the play of the game with her block on Peters. As a team the Terps out-rebounded the Blue Devils 45-to-36, a key stat after they weren't able to do so in their loss to Duke earlier this season.

Frese viewed the win as a team effort, calling it “twelve strong.” It was also one that gives confidence to a team looking to hit their stride at just the right time.

“It means that we have the ability to compete with anyone in the country,” said Mincy. “We have to keep working and are looking forward to the remainder of the ACC schedule and the ACC Tournament."

The Terps next face North Carolina on Friday night in their final home game, where they will honor seniors Lynetta Kizer, Anjale Barrett, and Kim Rodgers during pre-game. Maryland was pushed to overtime before defeating UNC when the two teams played in January, and will look to win the season series against the Tar Heels.

“We're excited obviously about the momentum that we're gaining and we just want to stay humble and hungry and finish this thing strong with the two games that we have remaining,” added Frese.

TerrapinTimes Top Stories