RALEIGH, N.C. — At times, Texas A&M freshman Alexia Standish played with the confidence of a veteran even though it was only her third NCAA tournament game. Standish and the Aggies just couldn't quite finish off Maryland.
Standish scored 19 points in the third-seeded Aggies' 81-74 loss to the second-seeded Terrapins in the Raleigh Regional. It marked the 5-foot-8 rookie's fourth double-figure scoring performance in six games.
"It's hard sometimes to have a freshman stand up and do the job of others who are supposed to be doing the job, but she played her heart out," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "She learned a lot. She's getting better and better for us."
Standish shot 8 of 14 and hit two 3-pointers, but she missed one for a tie with 1:16 left. Maryland's Brene Moseley then stole the ball from her on the ensuing possession, her third turnover of the second half.
"As a point guard, I need to take care of the ball," Standish said. "But I'm a freshman, I'm learning and next year and in the next few years, I'll learn not to make those mistakes through the end of the game."
Laurin Mincy had 21 points and a career-high 12 rebounds to lead Maryland.
Alyssa Thomas added 21 points and nine rebounds for the Terrapins (31-4), who trailed by 18 in the first half and 11 midway through the second. But Maryland fought its way back and held the defending national champion Aggies (24-11) to one basket in the final 7½ minutes.
"You've got to have that killer instinct," Blair said. "We had a team on the ropes and didn't put them away."
The Terrapins have won 10 straight and 13 of 14 since a home loss to Virginia Tech on Jan. 26. They're back in a regional final for the first time since 2009, when they were in Raleigh as a No. 1 seed.
Maryland finished with a 42-30 rebounding advantage, which led to an 18-5 edge in second-chance points.
The Terrapins went ahead to stay on Lynetta Kizer's score inside off a feed from Moseley that made it 75-74 with 3:29 left. That started an 8-0 run to close the game, with Thomas feeding Mincy on the break after a turnover for a transition layup.
Thomas followed that with a jumper in the lane with 50 seconds left after an offensive rebound to make it 79-74, which all but sealed the win as the Aggies missed a series of desperate 3-pointers in the final seconds.
"This team knows and has the confidence it can come back against anyone," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said.
Texas A&M got off to a fast start, jumping to a 12-2 lead and pushing that margin to 18 points twice in the first half. But Maryland closed the half on a 21-6 run — including a pair of baskets from Thomas in the final 2½ minutes — to trail just 44-41 at halftime.Comment on this story
Thomas scored again to start the second half and pull the Terps within one, but Texas A&M came right back with eight straight points to take back control.
The Aggies led 72-65 on Kelsey Bone's layup with 7:49 left, but they managed just one field goal — a drive from Standish with 3:48 left — the rest of the game.
"They really picked up their defense," Standish said. "At the beginning, we got a lot of open looks. Their defense, we just got by them a lot easier. But they picked it up in the second half."