COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The first half was nearly perfect for the Maryland Terrapins. Maryland was coming off consecutive defeats, and it had the perfect foil in the youthful Boston College Eagles.
The Terps (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) used an astonishing 38-3 run in the last 15 minutes of the first half to take a 38-point halftime lead and coast to an 86-44 win over the Eagles on Thursday night.
Maryland (19-3, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) held Boston College (5-17, 0-9) to just four field goals in the half. The Eagles, who played without a senior, missed 27 of 31 shots.
The second half was more competitive with the Terps outscoring BC 35-31. At one point, Boston College got within 25 points, but no closer.
Maryland's 42-point win was its largest ACC victory since a 64-point drubbing of Clemson on Jan. 6, 2008.
"I thought the first half was the most inspired, best effort -- intensity we've given to date. It's encouraging," Terrapins coach Brenda Frese said.
Frese's team was helped by the return of Alyssa Thomas, who scored 14 points. Thomas, the team's leading scorer, missed the upset loss to Virginia Tech on Jan. 26 with a sprained left thumb. Laurin Mincy and Brene Moseley each scored 16 to lead Maryland.
Thomas made her presence felt immediately. She hit a jumper six seconds into the game, and in the first 3:39, had four field goals to give the Terps a 13-4 lead.
Her coach said Thomas' return was critical.
"Extremely important -- first and foremost -- from the energy she brings -- and gives our team confidence when she's on the floor. You know she's going to go hard on every possession -- defensively -- offensively," Frese said. "Obviously, a critical piece for us."
Thomas got the cast on her thumb removed Friday.
"It felt really good. It didn't seem to really affect me out there," Thomas said.
Mincy agreed that Thomas' energy was vital.
"She brings so much to our team. She picks us up," Mincy said.
"When she's doing her thing, we just follow her lead. She opens up the floor for everyone. When she's out there, defenders pay a lot of attention to her."
The Terps avoided their first three-game losing streak in nearly two years.
The Eagles have lost nine straight -- their longest losing streak since a 10-game skid in the 1994-95 season. They shot just 21.1 percent. Joy Caracciolo led BC with 10. Katie Zenevitch had eight points and 12 rebounds.
Boston College got consecutive scores just once in the first half when Tiffany Ruffin and Kat Cooper hit 3-point shots to momentarily cut the Maryland lead to 13-10 with 15:02 remaining.
The Terps' domination in the rest of the half could hardly have been more complete.
Eagles coach Sylvia Crawley said she couldn't remember being the victim of a run like that. She preferred to focus on her team's better play after halftime.
"I definitely liked our effort in the second half better. I was disappointed that it took us a whole half to fight in this game," Crawley said.
Maryland led 51-13 at halftime. It was the second fewest points Boston College had ever scored in a half. The 38-point lead wasn't the largest of the season for Maryland. They led Delaware State by 43 on the way to a 75-point win -- 108-33 on Dec. 10, but it was the fewest points the Terps allowed in a half this season.
The Eagles shot just 12.9 percent in the half -- missing 27 of 31 shots.
Maryland scored eight points in a 21-second burst when Mincy scored on a 4-point play, Thomas followed with a layup four seconds later, and Lynetta Kizer another layup 17 seconds later.
Maryland finished the first half scoring the final 20 points. They hit six of eight 3-pointers in the half.
The second half wasn't as bad for the Eagles. Thanks to eight points by Zenevitch, who had been held scoreless in the first half, Boston College outscored the Terps 20-7 in the first eight minutes of the half to cut Maryland's lead to 58-33, but never got any closer.