The sixth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team got substantial contributions from its reserves, moved the ball as crisply as it has all season and pulled away from Wake Forest courtesy of strong three-point shooting late in the first half en route to a 76-49 victory Thursday night in front of 3,539 at Comcast Center.
In their final ACC home opener before departing for the Big Ten next season, the Terrapins (14-1, 2-0 ACC) won for a 12th consecutive time and beat Wake Forest for a 16th straight time. Maryland has not lost to the Demon Deacons (9-6, 0-2) since Feb. 13, 2003.
“I thought we started a little sluggish first half, could have been a byproduct from the other night,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said, referring to a 79-70 win against then-No. 10 North Carolina on Sunday in Chapel Hill, N.C. “But I thought we did a much better job once we were able to open it up late in the first half and kind of get our rhythm.”
Freshman Shatori Walker-Kimbrough led Maryland with 15 points, going 6 for 10 from the field, including 3 of 6 from three-point range. Maryland’s second-leading scorer this season made consecutive three-pointers in the closing minutes of the first half for a 40-28 lead, and senior guard Katie Rutan (nine points) added a three-pointer just before intermission.
Senior forward Alyssa Thomas finished with 11 points, six assists and five rebounds, ending a string of 13 straight double-doubles. With victory all but certain, the two-time ACC player of the year spent much of the second half on the bench cheering on her teammates.
“We had a great team effort today,” said Thomas, who has two triple-doubles this season and four in her career. “Everybody contributed.”
Senior center Alicia DeVaughn had 11 points and five rebounds, and sophomore guard Chloe Pavlech added 10 points and two rebounds. A starter last season because of injuries to Brene Moseley and Laurin Mincy, Pavlech has played sparingly this season with the arrival of freshman starter Lexie Brown and a healthy roster.
Depth at point guard has made a noticeable difference, as Thursday’s triumph underscored. Maryland had 23 assists on 31 field goals and sank 10 of 23 from three-point range, matching a season high for three-point field goals made in a game.
“I was really motivated for this game,” Pavlech said. “Coach B always says to us you never know if it’s going to be your night or when your number is going to be called or when it’s time for your opportunity, so I was just glad I was ready.”
A defensive highlight for the Terrapins was limiting guard Chelsea Douglas to seven points on 1-for-12 shooting. The senior entered averaging 20.1 points and scored 48 during an 86-79 victory over Florida International on Dec. 29.
The Terrapins’ bench also outscored Wake Forest’s, 45-14, and Maryland owned a 41-32 margin in rebounding after trailing by four rebounds in the first half. Maryland forced 20 turnovers and held a 21-12 advantage in points off turnovers in the first game of a season-long, three-game ACC homestand.
“I love that stat,” Frese said of the discrepancy in bench scoring. “We’re constantly saying, ‘Any given night, be ready,’ and Chloe showed that tonight. Our bench was fantastic. I felt like in the first half toward the last eight minutes, you start seeing teams wear down, and we’re able to do that with our depth.”