COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Army led by three more than 10 minutes into the game, but a 29-2 run over the final 9:11 of the first half propelled fourth-seeded Maryland to a 90-52 victory over the 13th-seeded Black Knights in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship at the Comcast Center Sunday afternoon. Kelsey Minato led the Black Knights with an Army NCAA Tournament record 27 points.
Minato made six three-pointers in the game, matching her own Army single-game record for the fourth time. She finished her sophomore season with an Army record 82 triples.
The Black Knights trailed five in the early going, but used the three-point line to take an 18-15 lead after three-pointer by Minato with 9:11 left. Army started the game 4-for-7 from three-point range, including two by Minato, one by Jen Hazlett and one by Jean Parker.
Minato’s three-pointer forced Maryland to call a time out to stem the Black Knights’ momentum, a tactic that proved effective as the Terrapins reeled off nine straight points as part of their larger spurt to take the lead for good. The Black Knights missed their last 10 shot attempts, including five three-pointers.
"Coming out of the timeout where we took the lead, they did a terrific job in switching everything," Army head coach Dave Magarity said. "They committed to switching every single ball screen; every single hand-off and at times Kelsey Minato had the center on her. They did a great job. They obviously were prepared for that and something that they had in their game plan defensively. That switching created a lot of indecision on our part. I don’t know what the turnover ratio was, but we ended up with eighteen, which is a lot more than we average."
Minato extended her streak of double-digit scoring games to 49. The two-time Patriot League Player of the Year finished her yearling campaign as the first player in program history to score more than 700 points in a season (725).
"Just coming out of halftime, we were down and I knew I had to just come out, play loose and just go for it," Minato said. "Every time I had an open look, even for half a second, I knew I had to take it because I wasn’t getting clean looks at all in the first half. I was just trying to be more aggressive."
Hazlett capped her standout career with nine points to improve her career total to 1,201, the 10th most in Army history.
Three-time ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas produced a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Lexie Brown scored 21 points. Brown hit nine of her 11 field goal tries. Katie Rutan added 11 points, connecting on all three of her three-point tries. Tierney Pfirman rounded out the Terrapins’ top scorers with 10 points.
The Terrapins started the game 6-for-18 from the field, but finished the game at 53.8 percent (35-65), including a 65.5 percent (19-29) mark in the second half. Maryland also held a 47-22 rebounding edge, including 18-7 on the offensive end. Army shot 37.3 percent (19-51) overall and 33.2 percent (9-27) from distance.
The Terrapins struck first, but Hazlett hit her first attempt of the game to tie it at 2-2. After Maryland regained a two-point edge, Hazlett buried a three-pointer to give Army a 5-4 lead with 17:50 left in the half. A putback by Jones quickly swung the lead back in the Terrapins’ favor and started a 6-0 run that gave them a 10-5 lead with 14:45 remaining in the opening half.
Minato ended a three-minute, 46-second Army scoring drought with a floater in the lane as the shot clock expired, and after a Maryland basket, connected on her first three-pointer to pull the Black Knights within a basket at 12-10 with 13:23 on the first-half clock.
Thomas extended the Terrapins’ lead to four points, but the Black Knights answered with an 8-1 run that included three-pointers by Minato and Jean Parker to take their largest lead at 18-15 with 9:11 left. Maryland was able to rally, however, answering with its decisive run.
Minato led the Black Knights with nine points in the first 20 minutes. Hazlett added seven first-half points. Thomas led all scorers with 13 points, while Brown contributed 12, including a pair of triples. The Terrapins rallied from a 6-for-18 start to make 10 of their last 20 shots, including all three of their first-half three-pointers.
After Minato started the half with a three-pointer to snap Army’s field-goal drought, but the Terrapins scored 18 of the next 25 points to claim a 62-30 lead with 13:54 to go. The shot capped an 8-0 Maryland run. The Terrapins made seven of their first eight shots in the second half, including all four of their three-point tries.
Minato halted the Terrapins’ momentum momentarily with her fourth three-pointer of the game, but Maryland tallied seven of the next nine points to take a 34-pont lead with 11:02 to play. The Terrapins’ led by as many as 41 during the remainder of the second half.
The Black Knights ended the season with a 25-8 record, breaking the program record for victories during the Division I era. Army claimed its second Patriot Leauge championship to earn the NCAA berth.
"It’s been a very memorable experience," Hazlett said. "It’s something that doesn’t come very often and for me has only happened once in my career. Thankfully I’m going out on kind of a high note."