The eighth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team recovered from a deflating start on Sunday against No. 5 Duke to complete a stirring comeback in the final minute for a 63-61 victory that was the Terrapins’ most satisfying this season.
A Comcast Center crowd of 15,150, the eighth-largest in both ACC and school history, rose for the closing moments, when Blue Devils sophomore forward Haley Peters had the ball at the left corner, her team trailing by two. Peters released a three-point attempt, but Alyssa Thomas swooped in to block the shot at the buzzer, and Maryland celebrated its fifth win in six games and its first this season over a top 10 team.
In sending Duke to its first ACC loss this season and ending its 16-game conference winning streak, Maryland got a team-high 19 points from junior forward Tianna Hawkins, who scored the Terrapins’ final five points, including a rebound putback with 15 seconds remaining for the final margin.
Hawkins, the NCAA leader in field goal percentage, shot 9 for 14 and added nine rebounds, all offensive. Sophomore guard Laurin Mincy had 17 points, and senior center Lynetta Kizer completed three Maryland players in double figures with 12 points and nine rebounds.
“There is nothing better than beating Duke,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said three days after collecting career win No. 300.
Within eight minutes, Maryland trailed 17-5 thanks to sophomore guard Chelsea Gray (16 points), whose two three-pointers and eight points during a 11-1 run had the Terrapins scrambling.
Maryland countered with an 11-2 flurry that featured seven points from Mincy, who scored just eight points the last time the teams met. Mincy made 3 of 6 three-pointers on Sunday, went 4 for 4 from the foul line and collected five rebounds.
Maryland had multiple chances to take the lead before intermission, but Duke was one step ahead until freshman guard Brene Moseley (seven points, six assists, one turnover) and Mincy connected on consecutive three-pointers 39 seconds apart late in the second half.
Mincy’s three-pointer with 5 minutes 21 seconds left gave Maryland a 53-50 lead, and another three-pointer with 3:36 left made it 58-54.
But the Blue Devils surged back in front with five consecutive points. Freshman center Elizabeth Williams (19 points, seven rebounds, three blocks) made 3 of 4 free throws in that burst, and when Hawkins was called for a charge, Duke (22-4, 13-1) had a chance to expand the margin.
But Williams missed a jumper, and Kizer did the same for Maryland before Hawkins carved out space underneath to secure her eighth rebound followed by a putback while getting fouled. Hawkins made the bonus free throw with 43 seconds remaining.
“Coach challenged us to get on the boards,” said Hawkins, who leads the ACC in rebounds at 9.7 per game. “So my main focus was making sure I get on the boards, and I was able to make a three-point play.”
The drama didn’t end there, though, with Gray driving past senior guard Kim Rodgers for the tying layup with 21 seconds left. Frese immediately called timeout to set up the final possession and instructed her players to hold for the final shot.
But Thomas sprinted down the court and attempted a layup in traffic that missed. Hawkins, though, was in position again for her final rebound and field goal that set up the frantic conclusion to a game in which Maryland outrebounded Duke 45-36, including 23-16 offensively.
“Absolutely the difference in the game,” Duke Coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “No question. Not only the rebounding differential but the offensive rebounding. No excuse for that.”