Maryland players, from left to right, Chloe Pavlech, Tierney Pfirman, Laurin Mincy and Brene Moseley react after Katie Rutan hit a three-point basket against Army during the second half of the first round of the NCAA women's college basketball tournament on Sunday, March 23, 2014, in College Park, Md. Maryland won 90-52.Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The game was nearly 11 minutes old, and upstart Army held a three-point lead over a Maryland team that spent most of the year in the top 10.
Angered over the surprising development, Terrapins coach Brenda Frese called a timeout.
On the other bench, Dave Magarity issued a warning: "I told our kids, you've got to brace yourself because they're going to be upset and they're going to come out angry."
The fourth-seeded Terrapins returned to score 29 of the final 31 points of the first half, including the last 20, and rolled to 90-52 victory Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA women's tournament.
Alyssa Thomas had 13 points and 14 rebounds and Lexie Brown scored 21 for Maryland (25-6), which will next face Texas on Tuesday night. Texas advanced with a 79-61 win over Penn.
The Terrapins trailed 18-15 before blowing past the 13th-seeded Black Knights (25-8), champions of the Patriot League. Following Frese's timeout, Maryland changed its defense and came out with the confidence befitting a talented, deep squad playing on its home floor.
"It's like we woke up a beast," said Kelsey Minato, who scored 27 for the Black Knights.
"It actually started with Alyssa. She gave a great, calming presence during the timeout that we were fine," Frese said. "We changed our defense; I thought some the switches that we made defensively really helped us. Then we were able to get going with our transition."
After Thomas capped a 9-0 spurt with two foul shots, Army got one free throw apiece from Minato and Aimee Oertner, the last with 4:56 left in the half.
Those would be the Black Knights' final points before halftime. Army went 10 minutes without a basket until Minato connected early in the second half to end the Black Knights' 0-for-10 stretch from the field.
Maryland led 44-20 at halftime and cruised from there. It was 60-30 with 14:29 left, the Terrapins upped the margin to 41 points with 5:36 remaining before Frese went deep to her bench.
"I thought that after we got the jitters out to start the game, we were able to show what separates us and makes us special," Frese said.
With her 25th double-double of the season, Thomas upped her career point total to 2,271 points — the most in school history by a man or woman. She passed Juan Dixon, who scored 2,269.
"For her to break the all-time record here at home is fitting," Frese said.
"She is one of the best players I have ever seen, in terms of her instincts and her ability," Magarity said. "She's just unbelievable."
Minato scored 18 after halftime after a 3-for-8 first half. Making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2006, Army went 7 for 22 from the floor during the pivotal first half and was outrebounded 25-12.
Playing her last game with the Black Knights, Jen Hazlett — the only senior on the squad — finished 1 for 10 from beyond the arc.
"Maryland did a great job on defense, but a lot of my shots were pretty open," Hazlett said. "I just wasn't making shots today."
Neither were her teammates. The Black Knights shot 37 percent overall and were 9 for 27 from beyond the arc.
Army had two shot-clock violations in the opening four minutes, and the Terrapins dominated the boards on the offensive end while taking a 12-7 lead.
With eight minutes elapsed, the Terrapins had 18 shots and no turnovers. The Black Knights, in contrast, had seven shots and six turnovers.
But Maryland kept misfiring, and successive 3-pointers by Jean Parker and Minato preceded the Frese timeout with 9:11 left.
After that, the Terrapins dominated.
"Once we started getting stops and getting rebounds and just pushing the ball up and picking up tempo," Thomas said, "it opened it up a lot for us."
The Terrapins returned to make their next three shots, including a 3 by Laurin Mincy that put Maryland ahead for good.
Minutes later, the Terrapins went on their 20-0 run. Brown scored eight straight points during the surge and Thomas contributed a basket and two free throws.