TOWSON, Md. – In the first month of the season, coach Brenda Frese has tried to make things difficult on her Maryland Terrapins.
She's scheduled some tough opponents along with several local mid-majors. Though the Terrapins have suffered two defeats, they've rebounded nicely from both of them.
In the eight days since Maryland lost to No. 2 Connecticut, the Terps have blitzed three teams by an average of nearly 40 points.
Alyssa Thomas had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and Katie Rutan added a season-high 16 points to lead No. 10 Maryland to an 88-43 win over Towson on Tuesday night.
Tianna Hawkins added 14 points and Alicia DeVaughn 12 for the Terrapins (7-2), who led by as many as 49 in the second half.
Maryland was ahead 43-21 at halftime and held the Tigers (4-4) scoreless for six minutes during a 21-0 run that gave the Terps a 68-25 lead midway through the second half.
"I like the way the team locks in and really focuses," Frese said. "When you challenge this team, they get better."
Ciara Webb scored 12 points to lead Towson, which lost its third straight. The Tigers shot just 29.1 percent and were outrebounded 47-29.
Towson coach Joe Mathews was very complimentary of Maryland.
"I still think they're a Final Four team," he said. "They have the opportunity to be very special."
The last time Frese brought a team to the Towson Center, which will be replaced by a new arena next year, the Terrapins were upset on Dec. 10, 2009.
"Different team. Different group," Frese said.
Maryland had a 9-0 run to take a 13-4 lead four minutes into the game and extended it with an 18-2 spurt, holding the Tigers without a field goal for eight minutes. By then, the Terps led 33-13 with 6:52 to play in the first half.
Thomas had eight points in the run, while Rutan had seven.
"I thought it took us a while trying to get the tempo in our favor," Frese said. "We were able to turn up our defensive intensity."
Rutan had three of her team's four 3-pointers.
"It's good to get a feel for the 3. I've been struggling a little bit, so to get it back and to get my rhythm back feels really good," Rutan said.
With 3:35 left in the first half, Thomas injured two fingers on her left hand in a scramble for the ball. Her second and third fingers were taped, and after sitting out the rest of the first half, she returned.
"I jammed my finger pretty bad," Thomas said. "It's nothing a little ice won't fix."
Frese said that it takes a lot for Thomas to leave.
"There's great concern when you see her in pain. Obviously, Alyssa's going to fight through anything and everything she can to be back out on the floor. I thought she was sensational tonight."
Hawkins, who was averaging 20 points in Maryland's first eight games, was called for two fouls in the first six minutes of the game, and didn't return until seven minutes were played in the second half. She fouled out.
"The way the game was being officiated, oftentimes Tianna gets penalized with her aggressiveness. With how the game was going, I wanted to be conservative," Frese said.
Maryland won't play until Dec. 20 because of finals. They'll visit Delaware, which has played without All-American Elena Delle Donne for all but one game this season due to symptoms of Lyme Disease.
"If she plays, a very talented team," Frese said.