The eighth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team played one of its more erratic games this season, committing one turnover after another in addition to missing foul shots and layups, but survived a scare from Virginia, 68-61, on Monday night before 3,897 at Comcast Center.
Four days after their first loss this season, the Terrapins got a game-high 20 points with five assists and no turnovers from sophomore guard Laurin Mincy and 10 points, 10 rebounds and three assists from senior center Lynetta Kizer to persevere despite 19 turnovers and 59 percent shooting (13 for 22) from the free throw line.
The Terrapins (17-1, 4-1 ACC) ended a two-game home losing streak to their rival three hours south of College Park thanks to a closing kick in which Mincy made four straight foul shots and Kizer scored on a layup with 49 seconds to play for the final points.
Maryland also managed the triumph despite an off night from sophomore forward Alyssa Thomas. The reigning ACC rookie of the year finished with six points, matching her low this season, and shot 2 for 10. She entered the game tied for first in scoring in the ACC at 17.4 points per game.
“I definitely figured I needed to step up since [Thomas] wasn’t contributing like she usually does,” said Mincy, who logged her fourth game with at least 20 points this season. “I thought we all did a good job stepping up, especially our bigs.”
The Terrapins’ front-court trio of Kizer (Potomac High, Va.), junior forward Tianna Hawkins and sophomore center Alicia DeVaughn combined for 27 points, 24 rebounds and four blocks on a night when point guards Anjale Barrett and Brene Moseley totaled 11 turnovers.
Junior guard Lexie Gerson led the Cavaliers with 15 points, including 3 of 6 from three-point range, and senior forward Chelsea Shine added 12 points for Virginia, which shot 39 percent, was outrebounded 43-33 and went to the line 13 fewer times. Virginia also got just eight bench points while Maryland had 23.
“All the credit goes to Maryland. They’re a great team and know how to fight off opponents,” Virginia Coach Joanne Boyle said. “I thought their post played pretty physical with us down the stretch, and we didn’t really match that.”
Virginia (14-5, 2-3) scored six consecutive points in the early stages of the second half to knot the score at 38, but Maryland scored seven of the next nine and increased the margin to 49-43 with two foul shots from Hawkins and Kim Rodgers’s layup.
That prompted Boyle to call timeout, and the Cavaliers responded by getting within five, 52-47. Maryland answered with a pair of Mincy free throws and a field goal by Kizer, and a basket from Mincy gave Maryland a 58-49 lead.
With 5 minutes 41 seconds to play, Virginia’s Ataira Franklin (14 points, five rebounds and four assists) scored in the lane and was fouled. The sophomore guard who played high school basketball at Riverdale Baptist made the bonus free throw, and the Cavaliers narrowed the deficit to 58-52.
Kizer missed two free throws, and Thomas made two for a 60-52 lead that dwindled to 62-57 when Gerson drained a three-pointer from the left baseline with 2:08 to play, setting up the tense closing minutes.
“I thought [the Cavaliers] came in and had a really good game plan,” Terrapins Coach Brenda Frese said. “Really made us play their tempo and their style of play. Very, very aggressive, and I thought it took us awhile to kind of get in the feel and the rhythm of the game, but I thought in the second half we were able to wear them down.”