- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2014

Through the first 10 minutes of Sunday’s first-round NCAA tournament game in College Park, 13th-seeded Army had established it wouldn’t go down without a fight against heavily favored Maryland.

As it turned out, said Army senior Jen Hazlett, her team only “woke up the beast” by taking an early lead.

The result was a 90-52 victory for the fourth-seeded Terrapins, who worked their way out of early trouble by attacking the basket and knocking down shots on the way to a 29-2 run to close the first half.

“After we got the jitters out to start the game, I thought we were really able to show what makes us special,” said Terrapins coach Brenda Frese.

They move on to a 7 p.m. matchup with No. 5 seed Texas on Tuesday, with a trip to the Sweet 16 in Louisville, Ky., on the line.

Through the first 10 minutes, it appeared that Army wasn’t going down without a fight. After a 3-pointer with 9:10 remaining in the first half, the Black Knights found themselves leading the Terrapins 18-15.

Once Maryland pulled ahead with just under eight minutes to play in the first half, though, the team never looked back. Holding a 28-6 advantage in the paint, the Terrapins were able to control the pace inside and out as they knocked down 4 of 5 3-point attempts in the second half, and 7 of 13 overall, in the victory.

Lexie Brown had 21 points to lead Maryland, and Alyssa Thomas added 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Thomas had already registered a double-double by halftime as she recorded all 13 of her points before intermission. It was her 25th double-double of the season — good for fifth in the NCAA.

“She is one of the best players I have ever seen,” said Army coach Dave Magarity. “She’s just unbelievable.”

For Thomas, the accolades and awards continue to add up.

With her 13 points Sunday, she surpassed former Terrapin Juan Dixon and is now the all-time leading scorer in Maryland basketball history.

“I knew I was close, but I didn’t think about it too much,” said Thomas.

While the Black Knights had their game plan in place to slow the three-time,  ACC Player of the Year, their concepts and adjustments quickly went out the window as Maryland began to get more comfortable in front of its home crowd.

The margin of victory allowed ample playing time for Maryland’s reserves, which outscored Army’s bench 38-13. Frese referenced the key contributions from junior guard Laruin Mincy, sophomore forward Tierney Pfirman and sophomore center Malina Howard and how vital strong play from the second unit is in the tournament.

“That’s what we’ve gotta be able to have in games with the depth that we have,” said Frese. “To be able to have that kind of play from the bench is key for us.”

To go along with Thomas and a stellar bench, Maryland also enjoyed the freshman guard Brown’s hot shooting touch.

Brown, who averaged 9.3 points per game through the regular season, knocked down two 3-pointers on her way to a 12-point first half. The hot streak from the field would continue for Brown, as she knocked down all four of her jumpers in the second half.

Playing in her first NCAA tournament game, the big lights didn’t scare the freshman from Suwanee, Ga., as she was able to control the pace of the game — while also adding an outside presence that allowed Maryland to control the game.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Brown. “It was a lot easier when we found out we got to play at home. We were a little nervous because of the stage, but when we got rolling we’re hard to stop.”

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