CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Worried after two conference losses? Not Maryland, not in the least.
Alyssa Thomas scored 21 points and the 13th-ranked Terrapins avoided an 0-3 start in the Atlantic Coast Conference with an 80-59 victory over Clemson on Sunday.
Maryland had opened league play with losses to Duke and Boston College for its first 0-2 ACC mark since 1999-2000. But coach Brenda Frese said her young team worked hard to make sure their conference losing streak wouldn’t grow any longer.
“There was no sense to panic two games in,” Frese said.
Espescially with a versatile, talented freshman like Thomas in Maryland’s starting lineup.
Thomas had 15 of her points in the opening half to steady her sometimes shaky teammates. Her inside basket put Maryland back in front, 16-15, after Clemson wiped out an early lead.
Thomas had another bucket about a minute to blunt momentum for the Lady Tigers, who had gotten three 3-pointers from Kirstyn Wright to lead 20-16. And Thomas’ hoop began a 15-5 run Maryland used to close the half and take the lead for good.
“I just do whatever the team needs me to do,” Thomas said.”If that’s to get the spark going or be a presence out there, that’s what I want to do.”
Thomas finished a point away from her career high and a rebound shy of her third straight double-double performance.
Thomas’ teammates took control in the second half for Maryland’s 10th consecutive victory over the Lady Tigers.
Thomas’ teammates helped Maryland take control in the second half. Lynetta Kizer scored 7 points during a 17-8 run over the first five minutes of the second half that pushed Maryland’s lead to 55-42.
Tianna Hawkins had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Maryland.
Wright had four 3-pointers to lead the Lady Tigers, who have lost 48 straight game to ranked opponents.
Frese has won a national title at Maryland and turned the Terps into a ACC contender nearly ever season. So it raised a few eyebrows in the sport when Frese club opened with a pair of defeats to No. 3 Duke and Boston College.
Not with Frese, however, who starts two sophomores along with freshman Thomas in Maryland’s lineup. She understands these Terps have much to learn in the ACC.
“We’re going to make a few youthful mistakes,” Frese said. But “we’ve got the core of this group for the next two to three years.”
That showed against the Lady Tigers.
Clemson wiped out a 12-7 lead with back-to-back 3-pointers from Wright. The Lady Tigers began to pull away and led 29-23 on Lindsey Mason’s inside shot and two foul shots from Kelia Shelton with 5:48 to go.
That’s when Maryland played like the program that’s been in the ACC title mix for much of the past decade, closing the half with 15-5 run to move in front. Thomas had five of her 15 first-half points in the surge while Anjale Barrett and Laurin Mincy added 3-pointers for the Terps.
Maryland put things together in the second half.
Kizer scored the first five points of the period. She added two foul shots with 15:55 left to extend Maryland’s lead to 50-42.
Hawkins followed with a three-point play and Kizer a basket.
Clemson cut the lead inside double-digits just once more in the contest. The Lady Tigers leading scorer coming in, Sthefany Thomas, was just 2 of 12 overall and 1 of 8 from three-point range. She finished with six points, seven off her season’s average.
Lady Tigers first-year coach Itoro Coleman was happy here team showed more fire than in last Friday night’s game with No. 22 Miami when they trailed 43-14 at halftime and lost 77-48.
“I thought we came out and fought. It was definitely better than we had in Miami,” Coleman said. “We were a lot more focused.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)