Alyssa Thomas had a huge game, leaving Virginia Tech no chance. - USA TODAY Sports
Alyssa Thomas missed the Virginia Tech game last year and her team suffered its most embarrassing loss of the season as a result. This year, she made sure she was the one propelling Maryland to victory over the Hokies.
The Terps fell to Virginia Tech last year in the their lone meeting with them, and did so without their star and leader Alyssa Thomas, who was out with a thumb injury. Fittingly, it was Thomas who on Sunday dominated with a season-high 26 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, ensuring Maryland would not be upset by the Hokies for a second consecutive year.
Thomas scored the first six points of a contest that No. 10 Maryland (13-3, 4-1 ACC) would never trail in. They led by double-digits from the 8:23 mark of the first half on, eventually winning, 74-45, over the 75th RPI-ranked Hokies (7-9, 1-4 ACC) at the Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va.
Maryland's leading scorer Tianna Hawkins added 14 points, while Katie Rutan and Tierney Pfirman rounded out four Terps in double figures scoring with 11 each. Maryland had 23 total bench points, with Rutan's 11 and 7 from Malina Howard and 5 from Sequoia Austin.
Uju Ugoka had 12 points and Monet Tellier had 11 for Virginia Tech. The Hokies shot just 27.9 percent from the field, as well as 46.7 percent from the free throw line, and went 0 for 8 from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, the Terps shot 54 percent from the field, 77.8 percent from the line and an impressive 75 percent from downtown (6 for 8) to give themselves a decisive edge.
Rutan was 2 for 2 from long range, Austin was 1 for 1 and Howard was a surprising 1 for 1 with just her second make and fourth attempt of the season. Meanwhile, Pfirman's 2 for 3 outing was the best sign for the Terps. She and Chloe Pavlech swing the balance in favor or against this Maryland team being a good 3-point shooting team.
Pavlech followed up her career-high 20 point performance against Miami with no points, but five assists.
22 turnovers by the Terps, twice the amount committed by Virginia Tech, prevented Sunday's game from being an even bigger blowout. Hawkins, Rutan and Pavlech were the biggest culprits with four turnovers each. Thomas, who averages a team-high four a game, added three.
Things don't get any easier for Virginia Tech as they now travel to Durham, N.C. to take on No. 4/5 Duke (15-0, 5-0 ACC) on Wednesday, Jan. 16.
Meanwhile, up next for Maryland is a date with N.C. State (8-9, 0-5 ACC) on Thursday, Jan. 17 in College Park, Md.