Sunday, March 20, 2011 5:56 p.m.
By Milton Kent
CSNwashington.comMARYLAND PAGE MARYLAND VIDEO
COLLEGE PARK The Maryland campus is on spring break, but the womens basketball team got off a late winter sabbatical early Sunday afternoon.
The Terps, off from action for 16 days, came back for the opening round of the NCAA tournament much to the dismay of St. Francis (Pa.)
Maryland jumped all over the hapless Red Flash out of the gate, then cruised to a 70-48 win.
I liked how we came out and set the tone early, said Maryland coach Brenda Frese. That was something we had talked about, wanting to come out and jump on them early. I thought we were focused and ready to play.
And then some. The Terps, ranked 16th in the nation, effectively ran the defending two-time Northeast Conference tournament champions out of Comcast Center by scoring the first 13 points of the game.
St. Francis coach Susan Robinson-Fruchtl had said that it would take a special day for the Red Flash to have a chance to beat Maryland, and it was anything but.
They took us out of our offense, said Robinson-Fruchtl. We had some turnovers early that led to some points off our turnovers and in transition for them. We just did not get out to a quick enough start to give us enough momentum to stay with them in the first half.
As the Maryland run extended to a 23-2 blitzing, the Terps, who had been sitting on idle since losing to Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals, seemed to shake off whatever rust might have been present from a more than two week layoff.
That (the early run) gave us confidence really, really early, said point guard Anjale Barrett, who had two of her three-pointers in that spurt. Not being able to play for two weeks really gets to you, so being able to get out there and not be as rusty as we thought we would and being able to start the way we did, it gave us a lot of confidence.
In her first NCAA tournament game, freshman Alyssa Thomas, the ACC Rookie of the Year, paced the Terps with 16 points, 10 in the first half. Barrett and sophomore forward Diandra Tchatchouang had 11 each.
It was fun to go out there and take their confidence away, said Thomas. As far as playing in my first NCAA (tournament) game, I was pretty excited and fed off the energy out there.
Maryland (24-7), seeded fourth in the Philadelphia region, shot 48 percent from the field in the first half and led by 23 at halftime. They looked poised to completely throttle St. Francis (22-12), except they played a sloppy second half and shot just 30 percent from the field.
Some of that may be due to the fact that Maryland was never seriously threatened. Also, after intermission, Frese tried to give more players NCAA tournament experience, a valuable commodity for a team where only Barrett and fellow juniors Kim Rodgers and Lynetta Kizer have been a part of March Madness.
The Terps will need to be smoother in Tuesdays second round game, when they host fifth-seeded Georgetown (23-10), which pasted Princeton (24-5), the 12th seed, 65-49, in Sundays other first round contest here.
The 22nd ranked Hoyas, whose brilliant sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers, who had 26 points Sunday, including four three-pointers, beat Maryland 53-45 in Washington in November, in the seasons second game.
Its a team that weve faced before. Were playing on a neutral floor so that should help us, said Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, with tongue planted firmly in her cheek.
Its tournament time and theyve gotten so much better since we played them early in November. Its really hard to look at a team at what they did back in November, because certain players step up, they run different offenses. The only advantage we have is, yes, we did play them before and our kids are confident because we did beat them the first time.