Terps Rally to Earn Elite Eight Birth

The Terps used 21 points by sophomores Laurin Mincy and Alyssa Thomas to upend Texas A&M 81-74.

All season long, the Maryland Terrapins' motto has been “Fight to Finish.” No matter what the score, this Terps team has never counted itself out. So when the second-seeded Terps found themselves down by 18 in the first half of their Sweet 16 game versus No. 3 seed Texas A&M, it was simply another obstacle in the way.

And once again, they conquered it.

The Terrapins twice rallied to come back from double-digit deficits behind the play of sophomores Laurin Mincy and Alyssa Thomas, knocking off the defending champion Aggies 81-74. After scoring the first basket of the game, Maryland did not lead again until there were just four minutes left, but it didn't matter. Survive and advance is the strategy the NCAA Tournament requires, and that's just what the Terps did.

Mincy and Thomas each finished with 21 points, but early on no one could get going for Maryland. Meanwhile, the Aggies could not be stopped, knocking down their first four three-point attempts and scoring on seven consecutive possessions at one point. It was a combination of hot-shooting by Texas A&M and defense that needed tightening for the Terrapins that put Maryland in the early hole.

After the Aggies went up 36-18 with 7:10 remaining in the first half, they finally began to cool down offensively, and Maryland took advantage. The Terps closed out the half on a 21-6 run, closing to within three at halftime, and were re-energized with life.

A quick steal and lay-up by Alyssa Thomas pulled Maryland within one out of the break, but A&M was not about to give in. The Aggies went on another run, this time a 14-4 one that put them up by 11 with 15 minutes to go. The lead grew to as much as twelve before Maryland finally started to chip away. Lynetta Kizer hit two free throws and then a lay-up to pull the Terps within three with just under six minutes remaining, but Maryland was still trying to get over the hump.

The Terrapins took their first lead of the second half on a jumper by Brene Moseley with 4:07 remaining, and after an A&M basket Kizer scored to make it 75-74 Maryland. It was a lead the Terps would not relinquish, as their defense shut the Aggies out for the remaining three and a half minutes. A lay-up and jumper by Mincy and Thomas gave Maryland a solid command of the game, and they went on to win 81-74.

Texas A&M is a big-bodied team like the Terps, but Maryland was able to out-rebound them 42-to-30. Mincy led the way with a career-high 12 rebounds, while Thomas grabbed nine. Offensive rebounds proved to be key, as the Terrapins had 18 second-chance points compared to the Aggies' five.

Lynetta Kizer scored 15 points off the bench for Maryland, while Tianna Hawkins added 12. Hawkins did not play the final 7:38 after she went down in a scary moment going for a rebound, but she returned from the locker room with what was called just a bruised hip.

Starting senior point guard Anjale Barrett played only 12 minutes, as Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese opted for freshman Brene Moseley for the majority of the second half. Moseley scored seven points, had six assists, and grabbed four rebounds, turning it over just twice in her 28 minutes, which were just two minutes shy of her career high.

With the come-from-behind win, the Terps earned a trip to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2009. They will now face No. 1 seed Notre Dame on Tuesday night in the Regional Final for a shot at the Final Four. Maryland has not been to the Final Four since 2006, when it won the programs' first national championship.

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