For a while, it appeared as if little Quinnipiac had a chance to hang with mighty Maryland.
Alyssa Thomas and the Terrapins would have none of it.
Thomas had 29 points and 13 rebounds, and Maryland spoiled Quinnipiac's debut in the NCAA women's tournament by pulling away to a 72-52 victory Saturday.
The fourth-seeded Terrapins (25-7) trailed by nine in the first half, scrambled to go up 27-23 at the break and dominated the second half against the smaller Bobcats, who couldn't stop Thomas' repeated forays into the lane.
"You just give her the ball and let her go to work," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "She's like a life vest — she can bail out anyone and anything. You saw her versatility. She was able to change the game. They didn't have an answer."
Tianna Hawkins had 23 points and 16 rebounds for Maryland, which will face Michigan State on Monday night. The fifth-seeded Spartans advanced with a 55-47 win over Marist.
Felicia Barron scored 13 for No. 13 seed Quinnipiac (30-3), the Northeast Conference champions. The Bobcats were unbeaten since a 74-57 defeat against Georgia Tech on Dec. 29.
But none of those 22 opponents had the height or talent of the Terrapins, who finished tied for second in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"They're a lot longer than we are, that's for sure," Quinnipiac forward Brittany McQuain said. "If we had played against those bodies all year long, we definitely would have been more prepared."
Quite clearly, the 6-foot-2 Thomas and 6-3 Hawkins were just too good. Between them, they scored as many points as the entire Quinnipiac roster.
"Being on the floor with talent like that is kind of humbling," McQuain said. "We did really extremely well in the NEC, not losing a game, and then coming here and playing against a really good ACC team kind of opens our eyes a little bit."
Quinnipiac played well for much of the first half, but very little went right for the Bobcats after that. Maryland opened the second half with a 14-3 run to go up 41-26, and Quinnipiac couldn't score with enough consistency to make up the difference.
"I don't think they've seen a team like us, that's able to rebound and run," Thomas said. "They found it very hard to match up with all of us."
During the first 10 minutes after the break, Quinnipiac was 2 for 22 from the floor while being outscored 22-9. The Bobcats finished with a 23 percent field-goal percentage on 17-for-74 shooting.
"We just couldn't put the ball in the basket," lamented guard Gillian Abshire, who had more turnovers than field goals (2-1).
Both teams had 22 rebounds at halftime, but Maryland finished with a 59-41 advantage. Alicia DeVaughn grabbed a career-high 17 for the Terps.
"I think we were able to wear them down. You could see that in the second half," Frese said. "We still wanted to continue to push tempo. Obviously we were disappointed in our rebounding at halftime. Credit them. They were physical, and I thought they gave us their best punch in the first half.
"But I do think our size, our physicality, our length, athleticism, Alyssa Thomas got to them. She gives you about three extra bodies out there in terms of her play."
Thomas scored 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting in a shaky first half for the Terrapins, who needed a closing 15-2 run to take the lead.
The 11:15 a.m. start produced shoddy play by both teams at the outset. Although the Bobcats missed seven of their first eight shots, Maryland started 4 for 20 from the floor. The Terrapins trailed 21-12 before Thomas made a layup to spark a 9-0 spurt that included five points by Hawkins.