The fifth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team collected their ACC championship rings shortly before tip-off of Friday night’s season opener at Comcast Center.
Then the front-court players who contributed to that record 10th title combined to overwhelm Mount St. Mary’s, 88-47, behind senior forward Tianna Hawkins’s 25th career double-double and double-figure scoring from juniors Alyssa Thomas and Alicia DeVaughn.
Hawkins scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the first half, shot 8 for 11 overall and finished with 10 rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes. She also factored significantly in an 18-5 run shortly before intermission that gave the Terrapins a 48-23 lead that all but secured the outcome. The burst included two three-pointers from junior guard Katie Rutan, who sat out last season after transferring from Xavier.
Thomas, the reigning ACC player of the year, chipped in with 14 points, 12 of which came in the first half, on 7-of-12 shooting and added seven rebounds and five assists in her first game since being named a first-team all-American. DeVaughn, a member of the ACC all-defensive team, had 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, with much of that production in the first half.
“I’m really excited about the dominance of our post play,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “I thought all three of them were really, really good, very active on the glass, gave us a great post presence inside and some really positive things to be able to build on here.”
Freshman Malina Howard, the centerpiece of Frese's most recent recruiting class, had 12 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals, and classmate Tierney Pfirman provided nine points, six rebounds and three assists.
Maryland shot 57 percent, owned a 54-25 margin in rebounding and 22-0 in fast-break points and limited the Mountaineers to 5 for 28 (18 percent) on three-pointers. The Terrapins had 25 assists, including 18 from the starters, they got points from eight of nine available players, with freshman guard Chloe Pavlech the only member of the active roster who did not score.
The Terrapins entered this season without their customary depth because of a season-ending injury to presumptive starting point guard Brene Moseley, a sophomore who tore the ACL in her left knee during a scrimmage on Oct. 21. Essence Townsend also tore her ACL earlier this week, although the center averaged just seven minutes per game last season.
The injury to Moseley, a first-team All-Met as a junior at Paint Branch High School, compelled Frese to move regular off guard Laurin Mincy to primary ballhandler during the preseason, and the junior responded with six points, five assists and one steal with four turnovers. The honorable mention all-ACC pick was Maryland’s second-leading scorer last season (13.1 points per game), when the team advanced to the NCAA tournament’s region final for the fourth time under Frese on the way to finishing 31-5.
“We did share the ball pretty well,” Mincy said. “We started to get out in transition, and that’s our game.”