COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Alyssa Thomas kept passing the ball to Katie Rutan, who repeatedly knocked down shots from beyond the arc.
The combination was too much for Florida State, whose effort to stop Maryland’s inside game came apart when Rutan began hitting shots.
Thomas had 22 points, a career-high 12 assists and 12 rebounds for her fourth triple-double of the season, Rutan tied a school record with eight 3-pointers and the eighth-ranked Terrapins rolled to an 87-77 victory Thursday night.
It was the sixth career triple-double for Thomas, one short of the NCAA record. The record for triple-doubles in a season is five, a goal well within reach of the 6-foot-2 senior forward.
“It’s cool because triple-doubles are hard to come by,” Thomas said. “But I can’t get them without my teammates, so that makes it even more special.”
In this one, Rutan was there to convert Thomas’ passes into points. Half of Thomas’ eight first-half assists were on 3-pointers by the senior guard.
“When you’ve got Katie hitting shots, it makes it easy to get assists,” Thomas said.
Rutan scored 24 points, one short of her career high set at Xavier in 2010. She went 8 for 10 beyond the arc in matching the school mark of 3s in a game set by Tiffany Brown in 2001 and tied by Kristi Toliver in 2009.
“I didn’t know that happened until I got into the locker room,” Rutan said. “Kristi Toliver is an amazing player. I wish I beat her, but it’s good to be with her.”
Coming off an 84-63 loss at Duke on Monday, the Terrapins (21-5, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) never trailed after a 3-pointer by Rutan made it 5-3. The margin quickly reached double figures, swelled to 18 by halftime and passed 20 points in the opening three minutes of the second half.
Natasha Howard scored 35 on 13-for-17 shooting and Morgan Jones added 18 for the Seminoles (17-9, 5-8), who have lost eight of 11.
“I’m just so impressed with Maryland,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “We wanted to take away their interior. We did a decent job of that, and then Katie went off shooting the 3. That’s a hard combination to guard when (they) have so many weapons.”
Rutan scored 18 in the first half, Thomas had 12 points and eight assists and Maryland outrebounded the Seminoles 21-9 in going up 53-35.
Thomas had assists on Maryland’s first three baskets and added a jumper off the glass for a 9-6 lead. Minutes later, Rutan and Lexie Brown drilled successive 3-pointers to make it 17-10.
After Jones countered for FSU, Rutan connected from beyond the arc to spark a 9-0 spurt that forced Semrau to burn her second timeout.
At that point, the Terps were 10 for 14 from the floor, including 4 for 4 on 3-point tries.
“I think you have to pick your poison,” Semrau said. “Their interior game is go good, and then you’ve got Alyssa Thomas who can go inside and outside. Then you add someone who can shoot the ball like Katie.”
Jones kept the Seminoles within striking distance by making her first four shots, each from beyond the arc.
Maryland led 35-25 before Brown made two baskets and Rutan hit a 3-pointer during a 9-2 run that upped the margin to 17.
Jones started the second half with a 3-pointer, but Maryland answered with a 7-0 spurt that made it 60-38.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)