COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Virginia Tech dared No. 15 Maryland to shoot from the outside, and Laurin Mincy was only too happy to oblige.
Mincy sank three of her four 3-pointers during a pivotal second-half run that carried the Terrapins to a surprisingly difficult 61-48 victory Thursday night.
Maryland was tied with the last-place team in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 12 minutes left before Mincy and Alyssa Thomas fueled a 21-7 surge that enabled the Terrapins to pull away.
“She was absolutely a huge difference in this game,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said of Mincy, a 6-foot freshman.
Virginia Tech’s strategy was to pack the lane against the taller Terrapins, who entered with the second-best rebounding margin the nation. The Hokies (11-17, 1-12) became only the third team this season to outrebound Maryland (22-6, 8-5), and were it not for an 11-for-21 performance at the foul line, they might have pulled off an upset.
“I thought we had a good game plan on how to beat Maryland,” Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger said. “I thought we executed it as good as we could from the defensive end.”
But the Hokies didn’t have an answer for Mincy, who scored all 12 of her points from beyond the arc.
“Once Laurin came off that bench, she was in the zone and did a heck of a job,” Dunkenberger said.
Virginia Tech opened the second half with an 11-4 run to pull even at 37 with 12:40 left. Brittany Gordon got the Hokies started with two straight baskets, and Shanel Harrison contributed five points to the spree.
Thomas put Maryland back in front with a layup, then added a 14-footer before Mincy connected from beyond the arc to make it 40-33.
The Hokies kept battling, but Mincy was too much to handle. She hit a 3-pointer for a 44-37 lead, then answered a layup by Gordon with another jumper from long range to put the Terrapins up 47-39 with 8:13 to go.
“I really think it was my best shooting game of the season,” Mincy said. “My coaches and teammates told me to keep being shot-ready, and it was just falling for me.”
Frese said, “We’ve always known this is what Laurin can do. When she steps up and shoots the ball with confidence, I’m not sure who can match her. She’s just got a great looking shot.”
Thomas scored 15 points and Lynetta Kizer had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Terps, who have won six straight against Virginia Tech since 2005.
Gordon had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Harrison scored 11 for the Hokies, who scored only 15 points over the final 12 1/2 minutes.
“Nobody means to miss layups, nobody means to miss free throws. But in a game against a Top 25 opponent, if you shoot 50 percent from the foul line, you’ve got to be kicking yourself a little bit there,” Dunkenberger said. “They were crucial points there; that’s when the game started to slip away.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)