The second half of the ACC schedule commenced in overpowering fashion for the 10th-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team, which began punishing Pittsburgh from tip-off Thursday night and kept pouring it on during a 94-46 victory in front of 3,758 at Comcast Center.
In winning by their largest margin in an ACC game this season, the Terrapins had three players in double figures, including a game-high 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting from senior forward Alyssa Thomas. The two-time ACC player of the year rested the final 12 minutes but not before adding seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals to fuel Maryland’s second consecutive win following a season-long three-game slide.
“I really liked how hard we played from start to finish,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “I thought we were really unselfish in our play, so obviously at this halfway point just wanting to build. Back-to-back games, when you talk about at Syracuse [an 89-64 win] and to be able to come home tonight and again not play the score I thought was big for us.”
Freshman forward Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 13 points with three rebounds and two assists, and freshman center Brionna Jones chipped in 12 points (6-for-7 shooting) and a team-high eight rebounds. The Terps played everyone on the roster except Malina Howard. The sophomore center sat out to rest a strained calf muscle.
Maryland (18-4, 6-3 ACC) beat its first-year ACC opponent for the eighth time in nine games and remained fourth in the standings with the conference tournament coming up in less than a month. The top four seeds in the ACC tournament receive byes into the quarterfinals and avoid having to potentially play five games in as many days.
The Terrapins shot 55 percent, outscored Pittsburgh in the paint, 36-18, and scored 17 in a row early in the first half to pull away. Five players contributed points during the surge that ended with a pair of foul shots from Walker-Kimbrough for a 21-5 lead with 10 minutes 37 seconds left until intermission.
“It was just part of our game plan to get the ball in [the] post and just work into a double-team and kick it out,” Jones said. “I think we really accomplished and executed what we wanted to do.”
Pittsburgh (10-13, 2-8) went without a point for seven minutes during that time, and when the Panthers trimmed the margin to 10, Frese called timeout with 8:30 to play. The Terrapins came out of the stoppage with another defensive stand, this time limiting Pittsburgh to one field goal over four and a half minutes.
With the game well in hand following a 16-0 run to open the second half, Frese was able to substitute liberally and allow front-line players to gain valuable rest heading into a rugged stretch that includes road games against Miami and fifth-ranked Duke and a home date with Florida State, which recently fell from the top 25.
“It’s good to see teammates get in there and get buckets,” said Thomas, who moved into third place all-time at Maryland in scoring and rebounding.
Pittsburgh’s only player in double figures was sophomore Loliya Briggs, who finished with 10 points. Maryland limited Panthers leading scorer Brianna Kiesel to five points, ending a streak of 28 consecutive games in double figures for the junior guard.