No. 7 Maryland women fall to No. 5 Duke, 71-56
Maryland couldn't take care of the ball. Couldn't get anything from its top scorer.And yet somehow, the seventh-ranked Terrapins rallied to take a late lead — only to let Duke's Chelsea Gray swipe it right back.
Maryland let its only lead slip away when Gray reeled off seven straight points during a critical stretch of its 71-56 loss to the fifth-ranked Blue Devils on Monday night.
"Obviously, she's an extremely difficult matchup," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said of Gray. "She's strong, she's physical. She definitely had her way with us."
Alyssa Thomas had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Maryland (19-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which would have claimed a share of first place with a win.
But the Terrapins could overcome neither 24 turnovers nor a miserable night for the ACC's leading scorer, Tianna Hawkins, in having their league-best nine-game winning streak snapped.
Hawkins finished with six points on 3-of-11 shooting and seven rebounds — well below her averages of 19.6 points and 9.9 boards — in her first game in single-digit scoring since St. Joseph's held her to two points in November.
"Tianna had an (atypical) night . but knowing Tianna, she'll bounce back," Frese said. "It was a game where our bigs didn't get a lot of touches in this game, in terms of the pressure they faced all night."
Turnovers also were once again a problem for the Terrapins, who entered averaging 17½ and finished two shy of their season worst of 26 set against Connecticut. Pavelich had nine of them.
"I don't think it was them that made us have those turnovers," Rutan said. "I think it was just us rushing, not playing our game. We can fix that. That's easy."
Freshman Chloe Pavelich's 3 with about 10:45 left gave Maryland its only lead at 44-42.
Three possessions later, Gray took charge — and kept Duke alone atop the league standings.
I "just love to see her elevate her game," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said of Gray. "To be able to do the things that she did on the floor, given the attention she was drawing, was phenomenal."
Gray put Duke back on top with a 3, followed that with two free throws and capped her personal 7-0 run with a layup from Alexis Jones that made it 49-44 with 7½ minutes to go.
"She gave us a nice little psychological boost," McCallie said. "It wasn't surprising, though. We've all seen this of Chelsea. It was like, 'Yeah.' She's a great player, and it was great to see her have those moments and take advantage of them."
After Elizabeth Williams followed with a layup, Gray added two more free throws to put the Blue Devils up 55-46 with 5:52 left.
Maryland briefly cut it to five before Williams and Gray hit layups. Coach Brenda Frese was given two technical fouls and tossed during a media timeout with 3:51 left — she said she was sticking up for her players because they were in danger of being injured — and Gray hit the four free throws that followed to give Duke its largest lead to that point, 63-50.
Gray finished with a career-high 28 points and Tricia Liston had 17 points off the bench for the Blue Devils (22-1, 12-0).
Gray made more free throws (13) than Maryland attempted (11). She surpassed her previous career high of 25 points set last season against North Carolina State.
"I still only had three assists and three rebounds," she said, "so there's definitely room for improvement."
Williams added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Duke, which won its 36th straight ACC game at Cameron Indoor Stadium and hasn't been beaten by a conference rival at home since Maryland did it five years ago.
Katie Rutan had 14 points and hit four 3-pointers for Maryland, which rallied from 10 points down and tied it at 33 on Rutan's 3 barely 2 minutes into the second half.
Duke never trailed and twice led by 10 during a sloppy-at-times first half in which the Blue Devils managed just two field goals in roughly 11 minutes.
Liston twice pushed Duke's lead to double figures, the second time coming on her jumper with just under 5 minutes left in the half that made it 28-18. The Terps clawed back and cut it to 30-28 on Malina Howard's running jumper in the final minute, and it remained tight until Gray almost single-handedly broke the game open.