It was a great day to be a college women’s basketball fan.
In a terrific display of poise and team leadership, the hometown Lady Terrapins dominated their overwhelmed opponents, the N.C. State Wolfpack, for a convincing 87-66 win at the Comcast Center.
The Terrapins (18-4 6-2 ACC) shot 56.7 percent from the field, including 55.6 percent from three-point range.
These accomplishments set all-time records in conference play for the fearless bunch.
And the Terrapins kept the pressure on the defensive end of the court as well.
N.C. State (9-13 1-6 ACC) managed to shoot only 37.7 percent from the field.
Maryland swarmed around the Wolfpack like an angry gaggle of queen bees.
From the opening minutes of this interconference battle, it was clear Maryland was a team on a mission.
If there was a slight hiccup in the execution of coach Brenda Frese’s gameplan, it was the low percentage of shots made from the free throw line.
The Terrapins made nine of 16 free throw attempts (56.3 percent).
“There will be some extra cardio on Saturday, to understand that we’ve got to step up and make free throws,” Frese said. "We’re going to have to make them in critical situations when the game comes down to one possession like Florida State.”
Her statement echoed what might have happened in the Terps last game, in which senior guard Kristi Toliver launched an off-balance, game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to steal a 72-71 ACC road win.
I am sure the Terrapins will feel the effects of both victories, from their heads all the way down to their toes.
The mood at the Comcast Center was electric.
It was fantastic to see the enthusiastic support for the women’s game, despite an off-year for the men’s squad.
Maryland fans get wild with the best of them, and it sure seemed like all 6,291 in attendance got their money’s worth.
Nine out of 10 Maryland players reached double figures.
Kristi Toliver once again proved she is a possible player-of-the-year candidate, finishing the game with 15 points.
Sophomore Drey Mingo netted a season-high 13 points, and provided her team with the cushion they needed to control the tempo of the game.
Senior forward Marissa Coleman, Maryland’s other consistent scorer not named Toliver, drained 14 points to move her into third place on Maryland’s career scoring list.
She is just 49 points behind Vicki Bullet (former Washington Mystic) for second place in Maryland’s women’s college basketball history.
As wonderful as it was to bask in this team win, one cannot help but feel sympathy for the Wolfpack.
Longtime coach and mentor Kay Yow succumbed to her 20-year struggle with breast cancer on Jan. 24.
Since her death, emotions have run on an uneven keel.
N.C. State has endured a painful loss in their basketball family.
They can honor Kay Yow’s memory by continuing to stare adversity in the face, and say, “We will carry on.”
The Wolfpack entered this contest ranked third in field goal percentage defense in the ACC.
Dressed in pink (the color that marks breast cancer awareness), NC State could not stop the Terrapin offensive onslaught.
In the first half, Maryland shot 70.4 percent from the field and took a commanding 48-32 halftime lead.
The Lady Terrapins converted 19 of 27 shots, and made five of nine three-point attempts.
“We were changing defenses, and we were actually trying to give them different looks,” N.C. State interim coach Stephanie Glance said. “They’re a very talented team and they were shooting exceptionally well from all (places) on the floor.”
Maryland established their inside post game early, leaning on the solid performances of freshman center Lonetta Kizer (12 points) and junior forward Dee Liles. (13 points, 11 rebounds)
Then it was Toliver time.
Toliver nailed four three-point shots from beyond the arc, in a five-minute span.
She made five of six attempts from three-point range for the game.
During a 6:32 stretch in the first half, Maryland did not miss a shot.
In fact, they made eight in a row to take a 42-24 advantage.
Liles converted three baskets and made one free throw, off of sweet looks from Kizer and Marissa Coleman.
“It’s definitely a feeling,” Coleman said. “In the first half we weren’t missing too many shots, so I think whoever got the ball, whoever had the open shot, we had confidence it was going in.”
Former Maryland standout Laura Harper had her jersey retired in a postgame ceremony.
Maryland’s next game is at Boston College on Feb. 9.