March 25, 2013
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Maryland women's basketball team advanced to its fifth Sweet Sixteen under head coach Brenda Frese Monday with a 74-49 win over fifth-seeded Michigan State at Comcast Center.
The fourth-seeded Terrapins (26-7) will face top seed Connecticut (31-4) in the Bridgeport Regional semifinals Saturday at the Webster Bank Arena. Game time is TBA.
Thomas, a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, had 18 at halftime to provide the Terrapins with an 11-point cushion. Her layup with 15 minutes left gave her 25 points and put Maryland up 46-30.
The 6-foot-2 junior went 12 for 18 from the floor, hitting both her 3-point tries and her only two foul shots. Thomas was pulled with 4:08 left, ending her bid to surpass her career high of 32 points.
Annalise Pickrel and Becca Mills each scored 12 for No. 5 seed Michigan State (25-9). The Spartans' two leading scorers, Klarissa Bell and Jasmine Thomas, combined for six points on 3-for-9 shooting.
After being eliminated in the first round at College Park a year ago, Michigan State was seeking to reach the round of 16 for the first time since 2009. But the Spartans went 3 for 16 from 3-point range and did not get to the foul line until there was just over 4 minutes left in the game.
The closest Michigan State got in the second half was 36-27. Hawkins then made a layup to spark a 10-3 Maryland run that Thomas capped with a 3-pointer and a layup. The margin swelled to 29 points with 5:25 left.
The Terps led 34-23 at halftime behind Thomas and a defense that limited Michigan State to 1-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc.
Thomas was on her game early, hitting her first five shots to stake Maryland to a 19-11 lead. She was also a terror on the defensive end, converting a steal into a layup and yelling triumphantly after blocking a layup by Jasmine Hines.
The Spartans were 5 for 18 from the floor before Mills made a layup to end a 12-2 Maryland run and cut the gap to 22-13.
With four minutes left in the half, the Terrapins led by 15 and Thomas had 16 points compared to 15 for Michigan State.
In her last four games, Thomas has scored 32, 26, 29 and 28 points.
In last year's NCAA Tournament run, the second-seeded Terps advanced all the way to the Elite Eight. They beat Navy and Louisville in College Park, then came back from an 18-point deficit to knock off defending national champion Texas A&M, 81-74, in the Sweet Sixteen.
This marks Maryland's 21st NCAA Tournament appearance and ninth in Frese's 11 years. She's led Maryland to four Elite Eights, five Sweet Sixteens, a Final Four and the 2006 NCAA Championship. Her all-time record with Maryland in the Tournament is 21-7 (.750). The Terps are 10-2 (.833) in NCAA Tournament games in Comcast Center.
Now in her 11th season at Maryland, Frese was voted ACC Coach of the Year by her peers. Thomas was voted ACC Player of the Year for the second straight season and is the first Terrapin to earn the award twice. She led the league in points (18.4), rebounds (10.5) and assists (5.5).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.