"Survive and advance." That's the old cliché about tournament basketball. Well, the Terps did far more than simply survive the first round of the WNIT tonight, they dominated the Iona Gaels, posting a convincing win, 88-53.
In the opening minutes, Iona hung with the Terps, thanks to some excellent shooting by the Gaels from beyond the arc (6 of 12 in the first half). Plus, in the early going, it looked like the Terps were busy trying to shake off a little "rust" . . . they hadn't played in nearly two weeks. But once the Terps found their rhythm about midway through the first half, they just kept going and going and going . . . extending the lead to nearly 40 points. If Coach B hadn't gone to the end of her bench early, Maryland would easily have reached triple figures. So every Maryland player got plenty of minutes. And they all seemed to enjoy this little break from the intensity of ACC competition.
Though it was the Gaels who started hot from long-range, it was the Terps who finished with 13 three-pointers . . . a season high! Kim Rodgers nailed 5 of 6 treys to share team-high scoring honors with 15 points. Tianna Hawkins also put up 15 points, the old fashioned way (1 or 2 points at a time), and pulled down 10 rebounds for yet another double-double in her young career. Three other Terps also hit double figures -- Lori Bjork (12), Jackie Nared (11), and Anjale Barrett (10).
From the fans' perspective, it's true this game wasn't particularly competitive, but when it comes to tournament play, it's all about advancing . . . and tonight the Terps did just that -- easily --and there's no question, it was fun to watch.
Thanks to the tonight's win, Maryland advances to the second round of the WNIT, and will host the East Carolina Lady Pirates (who defeated Drexel tonight in OT) on Sunday (at a time still to be determined). Although the Terps have played plenty of Carolina teams over the years, apparently they missed one, as the Terps and the Lady Pirates have never played each other. On Sunday, that will change.
Go Terps! Beat the Pirates!
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And now a few words about that other tournament, the NCAA: Go Princeton Tigers! Go Dayton Flyers!