Maryland wins with little help from Alyssa Thomas

TAMPA, Fla. -- Maryland overcame a rare subpar performance by Alyssa Thomas to start the new season with a victory.

Laurin Mincy scored 15 points and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 12 as No. 8 Maryland beat South Florida 78-70 Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

Thomas, a preseason Associated Press All-American who averaged 18.8 points and 10.3 rebounds last season to help Maryland reach the NCAA round of 16, was severely limited by foul trouble and had just four points and three rebounds in 10 minutes. The senior forward entered with double-digit scoring in 90 of her 100 games, including the previous 28.

"Obviously, very excited to be able to come out of here with the win against a really good team," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "When your All-American only plays 10 minutes, I definitely think we were able to show our depth."

Courtney Williams had 21 points for South Florida, which got its first NCAA tournament win last season before losing in the second round. Bulls guard Inga Orekhova, who averaged 12.7 points last season, finished with two points.

"It definitely gives us confidence," Williams said. "Coach (Jose Fernandez) told us we could play with anybody, and we believe him. Tonight it showed."

Maryland used a late 15-2 surge to take a 43-28 halftime lead. Thomas missed all three of her first-half shots and played five minutes after picking up two fouls early on.

"We knew coming in they had a very well coached basketball team and a very good program," Fernandez said. "They're going to win a lot of games. I think they've got some really good pieces."

Mincy had 13 points and freshman Lexie Brown chipped in 11 during the opening half for Maryland. Brown completed the late run by hitting a 3-pointer 2 seconds before intermission.

Mincy missed all but five games last season after tearing her right ACL on Nov. 28 against Nebraska.

Thomas was called for her third foul during the opening minute of the second half. After returning to play, she got her first two points on a jumper with 9:20 left, but committed her fourth foul less than 30 seconds later.

South Florida pulled to 45-37 just 3 minutes into the second half when Tamara Taylor connected on a long-range jumper. She had 14 points overall.

Consecutive baskets by Tierney Pfirman put Maryland ahead 53-39 with 13 minutes to play.

Poor shooting slowed South Florida in its comeback bid. The Bulls made just 15 of 59 shots (25.4 percent) through the first 28 minutes of play.

South Florida got within six points on Alisia Jenkins' layup, but Maryland grabbed a 64-55 lead during its next possession on a 3 by Walker-Kimbrough.

USF pulled to 72-68 when Orekhova made two free throws with 40.3 seconds remaining. Thomas responded by making a pair free throws 20 seconds later.

"We knew it would be tough coming in here," Frese said. "I thought they made a ton of runs at us. I thought we were able to keep our composure and be able to put them away down the stretch, making some plays at the end."

Orekhova missed 11 shots from the floor, including six from 3-poit range.