ea Hakala scored a career-high 24 points, had nine rebounds and six assists as Maryland defeated second-seeded North Carolina, 88-69, tonight in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal at Cumberland County Arena.
The third-seeded Terrapins (24-4) face top seed North Carolina State (21-6) Sunday at 4 for the title. It will be Maryland's sixth straight final and the fifth time in six years the same teams have played for the championship.
Linda Page scored a school-record 42 points to guide North Carolina State to an easy 103-87 win over No. 5 Clemson in the opener.
"I don't think we could've played any better," Maryland Coach Chris Weller said. "We felt we had to outrebound them. Chequita (Wood) did a great job on the boards. The best aspect was the defense, which was the same we used to beat Old Dominion. We executed nicely on offense down the stretch.
Freshman guard Pam Leake rallied the Tar Heels (22-7) from an eight-point halftime deficit as her 14th point of the half pulled the Tar Heels within 53-49 with 10 minutes to play. Then, Terrapins cocaptain Debbie Lytle went to the bench with her fourth foul.
Jasmina Perazic (22) and Hakala kept Maryland in front despite marvelous performances by Leake and Kathy Crawford, who each had 20. Wood came off the bench to score 13 points and grab a game-high 12 rebounds, helping the Terrapins to a surprising 42-31 rebounding edge over the taller Tar Heels.