COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - 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.
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.”
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.”