NEWARK, Del. — Playing its first game in nine days, the ninth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team stormed ahead of Delaware early in the second half, then withstood a rally and used stifling defense down the stretch to pull away for a 69-53 victory on Thursday night before a record crowd of 5,089 at Bob Carpenter Center.
Senior center Tianna Hawkins led the Terrapins with 16 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, and junior guard-forward Alyssa Thomas and junior guard Katie Rutan each chipped in 13 points in front of the largest crowd in school history to witness a women’s basketball game.
In running its all-time record against Delaware to 11-0, Maryland also received important contributions from freshman point guard Chloe Pavlech, whose two three-pointers in the second half came at critical junctures. She also had five assists and three steals with just one turnover and during one stretch in the second half guarded Elena Della Donne, a national player of the year candidate who has missed all but two games this season while combating Lyme disease.
“Just a tremendous game, I thought,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “It was a phenomenal atmosphere. Great crowd. What a battle. I thought both teams were really, really good back and forth, especially when they cut it to three there in the second half. I’m really proud of our team. I feel like we’re battle-tested.”
After the Terrapins (8-2) built a 48-34 advantage with 14 minutes 46 seconds left in regulation, Delaware made a game of it when Delle Donne briefly regained her shooting rhythm. The all-American’s three-pointer cut the deficit to 10, and she closed the Blue Hens’ 12-2 burst with another three that got Delaware within 52-49 with 8:05 to play.
But the Terrapins never allowed the margin to get any closer thanks to three-pointers from Rutan and Pavlech surrounding a Delle Donne jumper with seven minutes left that would be the last field goal of the game for Delaware (5-3).
When Pavlech’s first three-pointer swished to make it 58-51, Delaware called timeout, and Maryland came out of the break with seven consecutive points, including Pavlech’s second three.
“Coach B talked about in the locker room how everyone loves to silence the crowd,” Pavlech said, “When Katie hit the three, you could tell just the whole Delaware stands were like, ‘Ugh.’ When I hit the three, then it was an even bigger ‘ugh.’ So it was just great, and it was fun.”
The Terrapins as usual controlled the interior with their front-court rotation that in large part was responsible for a rebounding margin of 44-35 and a 17-6 advantage in second-chance points. Hawkins was particularly assertive inside following intermission, scoring three straight baskets on offensive rebounds. The all-ACC second-team selection last season also had 14 of Maryland’s 17 points bridging the halves, including 12 consecutive points in that span.
Maryland limited its Colonial Athletic Association opponent to 33 percent shooting, sank all 10 of its free throw attempts and committed only five turnovers in the second half. It also forced Delle Donne into taking 23 shots to score her game-high 19 points, 11 of which came in the second half.
“We cut it down to whatever it was, three or four, [and] took some ill-advised shots,” Delaware Coach Tina Martin said. “Then Maryland does what Maryland does. They’re a very good basketball team. They’re the number one rebounding team in the country, and we could just not keep them off the boards.”