COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Playing with a roster filled with underclassmen, North Carolina State is learning in a hurry how difficult it is to win in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Marissa KIastanek scored 16 points, but the team's lone senior was the only Wolfpack starter to reach double figures Thursday night in an 82-62 loss to No. 10 Maryland.
Six games into the conference schedule, NC State is still looking for its first league victory. Half those six defeats have come against ranked teams.
"If we can get through this stretch, we'll be OK," coach Kellie Harper said. "These kids just need something positive to happen. I think we're definitely a better team than how we played tonight.
"We've showed we can be very competitive in our league. It's tough when you get in a stretch like this. It's a snowball effect."
Tianna Hawkins had 26 points and a season-high 17 rebounds, and Alyssa Thomas scored 18 for the Terrapins, who never trailed. It was the ninth double-double of the season for Hawkins, the ACC's leading scorer. Thomas, meanwhile, supplemented her own scoring output with seven rebounds and six assists.
"Those are two great players," Harper said of Maryland's duo. "I thought Thomas did a nice job defensively for them. But when you've got Alyssa Thomas leading the break and Hawkins cleaning up everything in the paint, that's a pretty powerful combo."
Maryland is playing this season without guards Brene Moseley and Laurin Mincy, both of whom are out with torn knee ligaments. The Terps also lost center Essence Townsend to a torn ACL.
But coach Brenda Frese still has Hawkins and Thomas, and that's plenty enough.
"To see the level of play that Alyssa and Tianna are playing at, in my opinion playing as the two best players in the conference, they're playing off of each other and with each other," Frese said. "They're really connecting on the court. You've got to have that. Their consistency has been huge as to why we've been able to win games when we're not playing as well as we can."
Tierney Pfirman added 16 for the Terrapins (14-3, 5-1). Hawkins, Thomas and Pfirman combined for 60 points — just two fewer than the Wolfpack scored.
The Terrapins have won eight of their last nine games against NC State (8-10, 0-6).
The Wolfpack shot 34 percent from the field in their fifth consecutive loss. NC State hasn't won in College Park since Jan. 23, 2005.
Maryland led by 10 early in the second half before Alicia DeVaughn hit a layup to spark a 13-2 spree that made it 49-28 with 16:36 left. The run included two layups by Hawkins and five straight points by guard Chloe Pavlech.
Less than a minute later, Thomas was called for her third foul. Frese kept her in the game, and Thomas promptly responded by sinking a soft jumper and getting an assist on a 3-pointer by Pfirman.
The lead swelled to 70-39 with 10 minutes remaining.
Thomas and Hawkins each scored 10, and the Terrapins limited NC State to 29 percent shooting in taking a 34-23 halftime lead.
Maryland scored the opening eight points, half of them by Thomas. The Wolfpack started 0 for 5 from the floor with two turnovers, including a pair of shot-clock violations, before Kastanek hit a jumper and successive 3-pointers to knot the score.
Thomas answered with three straight jumpers to make it 14-8, and the Terrapins never relinquished the lead.
Baskets by Pfirman and Hawkins sparked an 8-2 spurt that made it 26-14. After NC State closed to 28-22, Hawkins and Pfirman scored inside to push the margin back to 10.