The Terrapins thought that their size advantage would help them out-rebound the Irish, but it was Notre Dame who controlled the glass from the start. The Fighting Irish won the rebounding battle 46-to-27 with their physical play and relentless crashing of the boards, often playing like they were the team with the height advantage.
Maryland kept it close through the first nine minutes - the game was tied at 12 - but it was all Notre Dame after that. The Irish quickly went on a 16-1 run before cruising into halftime up 40-21.
The Terps have come back from big deficits before, but they were clearly out-matched tonight. In the second half, Notre Dame appeared to be just scoring at will, dominating Maryland in nearly every facet of the game and running the floor with ease. It was a rough ending to a Terps' season that had such high expectations.
Sophomore Alyssa Thomas led the Terrapins with 17 points, just hours after she was named an AP First-Team All American. However, it was fellow First-Team All American Skylar Diggins who stole the show. Diggins recorded Notre Dame's first triple-double since 1990 with 22 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds to lead her team into the Final Four.
Notre Dame also got solid contributions from Natalie Achonwa, who had 18 points and seven rebounds, Kayla McBride, who scored 16 points, and Natalie Novosel, who added 14. Tianna Hawkins and Alicia DeVaughn joined Thomas as Maryland players in double figures, each scoring 10. After scoring 21 points in the Terrapins' Sweet 16 win, Laurin Mincy was held noticeable silent, finishing with just two.
Maryland shot just 39.3% from the floor, while the Irish shot considerably better at 49.2%. The Terps also failed to make any of their eight three-point attempts, and only ended up taking eight free throws. As a team the Terrapins committed 21 turnovers, a few of which occurred when Notre Dame players flat-out wrestled the ball away off the dribble.
It was a tough end to the Maryland careers of seniors Lynetta Kizer, Kim Rodgers, and Anjale Barrett. Barrett had eight points and four assists in her final game, but Kizer and Rodgers combined for only two. The Terps will now have to re-group for next season without them, and will almost certainly be using tonight's loss as a learning experience.
A young team, Maryland is set to return four of their starters next season and will look to build off of this year's successes, which include finishing 31-5, winning an ACC Championship, earning a two seed in the NCAA Tournament, and going to the Elite Eight.