The 10th-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team turned to its two most indispensable players and got all-around contributions from a freshman on Thursday night to run away from North Carolina State, 82-62, at Comcast Center.
Senior forward Tianna Hawkins scored 16 of her game-high 26 points in the second half and grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds, and junior forward Alyssa Thomas added 18 points, seven rebounds and a game-high six assists to push Maryland to a fourth straight win and its 10th victory in 11 games.
Forward Tierny Pfirman, meantime, chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds in reaching double figures for the third time in four games. One of the more highly recruited players in the country last season, Pfirman also shot 7 for 12, making two of Maryland’s three three-pointers.
In beating the Wolfpack for the eighth time in nine games, Maryland owned points in the paint, 51-22, and rebounding margin, 47-34, and shot 55 percent. The Terrapins limited North Carolina State to 34 percent shooting and just 4 of 13 from three-point range.
Maryland (14-3, 5-1 ACC) began to pull away early in the second half courtesy of a 13-2 flurry during which North Carolina State’s Kody Burke was assessed a technical foul. Thomas, an 81 percent foul shooter, missed both technical free throws, but the Terrapins got a jumper from Hawkins and five consecutive points, including a three-pointer, from freshman guard Chloe Pavlech.
On Maryland’s next fast break, junior guard Katie Rutan collected a touch pass from junior center Alicia DeVaughn and scored a layup for a 49-28 advantage with 16:36 left in regulation.
From there, North Carolina State’s best hope to keep the score close came when Thomas was called for her third personal foul with 15:47 to play. Terrapins Coach Brenda Frese elected to keep the ACC’s second-leading scorer in the game, and Thomas sank a jumper for a 54-35 lead.
Following Burke’s jumper to pull the Wolfpack within 54-37, Thomas delivered a cross-court pass to Pfirman, who launched a three-pointer from the right win that began a string of six consecutive points. Rutan’s jumper stretched the lead to 22, and Hawkins added a jumper for 61-37.
Melissa Kastanek made a pair of foul shots for North Carolina State before Maryland scored the next nine points. Hawkins triggered the run with an offensive rebound and putback, and Rutan gathered a pass from Thomas for a layup.
Thomas provided Maryland with a 67-39 lead on two free throws, and after she missed a jumper from the foul line, Hawkins collected the rebound, scored on the putback and drew a foul. When Hawkins swished the bonus free throw, Maryland had a 70-39 cushion with 10:02 to play.
Thomas scored 10 consecutive points early in the first half, including six in a row to break an 8-8 tie and give Maryland the lead for good. Soon after, the Terrapins used an 8-2 burst to grow the lead to double figures, prompting at timeout by North Carolina State (8-10, 0-6) with 5:21 left until intermission.
Thomas was on the bench during that sequence because she had committed her second foul at 8:55, but Hawkins smoothly filled the role of primary scorer. Her jumper made it 28-16 before the Wolfpack got within six following a three-pointer by Myisha Goodwin-Coleman, an offensive rebound and putback from Burke and Kiana Evans sinking 1 of 2 foul shots.
Maryland ended the first half by scoring six of the final seven points, including junior guard Sequoia Austin’s jumper that swished through the net as the shot clock expired.