COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland forward Alyssa Thomas spent much of the Terrapins’ season opener on Friday on the bench in foul trouble, a byproduct of the NCAA’s new hand-checking rules.
The second-team All-America selection last season adjusted well two days later, getting 14 points and 12 rebounds as No. 8 Maryland handled Loyola 89-53 on Sunday.
“You just have to feel it out, what they’re going to allow you to do and what they’re not going to allow you to do,” said Thomas, who added four assists and three steals as the Terps (2-0) won their 15th consecutive home opener.
Alicia DeVaughn scored 14 points for Maryland, which still found itself in a game influenced by stricter officiating.
The Terps and Loyola combined for 48 fouls, and Maryland made 29 of its 35 free throws.
“The flow of the game is difficult, and I think we did a nice job of stepping up and making free throws, which we obviously have to be able to have with this new rule,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said.
Nai Brown led Loyola (0-1) with 11 points.
Unlike Friday, when Maryland didn’t put away South Florida until the final minute of a 78-70 victory, the Terps needed little time to assert themselves.
Sophomore guard Chloe Pavlech made a 3-pointer 12 seconds into the game, and both DeVaughn and Thomas soon converted three-point plays to expand the early lead.
Senior guard Katie Rutan’s basket with 17:35 left in the first half made it 11-0, and prompted a Loyola timeout.
The Greyhounds, who were 12-18 last season, trimmed the deficit to nine on three occasions. But after Loyola pulled within 25-16 with 8:23 left in the first half, Maryland uncorked a 10-0 run to pull away for good and secure its 14th consecutive victory over the Greyhounds.
“It’s one of those things where you know you’re going to get punched in the face and you just stand in there and take it .,” Loyola coach Joe Logan said. “It was exactly the worst start we could ask for. I was proud of how we responded, but they just keep coming at you. They’re so big and strong.”
The deeper Terps were especially effective inside, outscoring Loyola 44-22 in the paint and 23-2 on second-chance opportunities. Maryland had 19 offensive rebounds to the Greyhounds’ 21 defensive rebounds.
“We were obviously disappointed in our rebounding effort down at South Florida, but credit them; I thought they were quicker to the glass,” said Frese, whose team had a 49-49 rebounding split in its opener. “I thought we did a much better job (against Loyola) in trying to improve in that area.”
Brene Moseley and Tierney Pfirman both had 11 points for Maryland, while Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 10. Thomas, meanwhile, played 20 minutes, recorded her 40th career double-double and committed just two fouls.
“I was just happy to be out on the floor,” Thomas said. “I definitely don’t like sitting on the bench, but we have a great bench this year and it just shows the depth we have.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)