COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Brinae Alexander scored over 1,100 points in her career before finally having an opportunity to play in an NCAA Tournament.
She made up for lost time.
Alexander scored a game-high 18 points, and second-seeded Maryland rolled to a 93-61 victory over 15th-seeded Holy Cross in the first round Friday. Alexander is one of a handful of transfers who have given the Terrapins a boost this season. She played previously at Vanderbilt, and now she’s part of a highly seeded Maryland team.
“I was really excited to especially be able to play home and have that home-court advantage,” Alexander said. “I think going in, it’s easy to have like the jitters and the nerves, but once you see the ball go in, especially for me, I think that gives me a good boost of confidence.”
Abby Meyers, who reached the second round of March Madness last year while at Princeton, scored 16 points for the Terrapins. Diamond Miller added 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Terps (26-6) scored the game’s first 14 points and advanced to face seventh-seeded Arizona on Sunday.
“Obviously it was a tough beginning of the game,” Holy Cross coach Maureen Magarity said. “Maryland just did a great job with their pressure, which we had been preparing for, but it’s hard to prepare and simulate what they do.”
Maryland was able to give its top players plenty of rest, with Miller, Meyers and Shyanne Sellers each playing a little over half the game. Sellers had 13 points and eight assists.
Holy Cross (24-9) was led by Simone Foreman’s 13 points.
Turnovers were always going to be a concern for the Crusaders against Maryland’s pressure, and that was a problem from the start. Holy Cross give the ball away 11 times in the first quarter alone and trailed 23-4 after one.
“I think in the first half, their press and their pressure really got to us,” guard Addisyn Cross said. “I think in the Patriot League we’re not really used to seeing that – that type of athleticism.”
There wasn’t much suspense after that. The Terrapins led 52-21 at halftime, and the final margin was about the same.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore attended the game.
Holy Cross: The Crusaders were out of this one early, but their season was still a memorable one. They were the lone men’s or women’s basketball team in Division I to represent Massachusetts in the NCAA Tournament.
“Just a really special group,” Magarity said. “Obviously I’m really sad that it’s over, because it’s just one of those years that you just never want it to end.”
Maryland: No sweat for the Terps, who started fast and avoided any threat of an upset. Maryland enjoyed a 37-7 advantage in points off turnovers.
“We’re athletic, we’re long, we’re energetic,” Meyers said. “That also helps motivate us and helps us find our effort and energy, is through that press. We’re going to hopefully continue to hurt teams with it.”
Now Maryland coach Brenda Frese prepares to face Arizona, the school she played for in the early 1990s.
“We’re talking about doing a reunion in the offseason, so I’m going to have to see who they’re rooting for in this game,” Frese said. “College are the best years of your life, so I’m really close to my college teammates that I was able to play with out in Arizona.”
Maryland: Has won all three meetings against Arizona, the most recent coming in 2006.