The fifth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team scored its most dramatic win this season, rallying from a 20-point deficit and getting a three-point play from sophomore forward Alyssa Thomas with 17 seconds left to claim the lead for good in an improbable 77-74 victory over Georgia Tech on Friday night.
Maryland extended its winning streak to 15 to start the season thanks to a game-high 24 points from Thomas, who had 18 in the second half. Her decisive jumper in the lane gave Maryland a one-point margin, and her ensuing free throw made it 76-74. She shot 7 of 14 and added 11 rebounds to match a game high in front of 3,864 at Comcast Center.
Laurin Mincy chipped in with 17 points, recovering from a first half in which the sophomore guard missed 5 of 7 shots and had five points. Sophomore center Alicia DeVaughn added 11 points and 11 rebounds, and senior center Lynetta Kizer was the fourth Maryland player in double figures with 10.
The Terrapins (15-0, 2-0 ACC) triumphed in their conference home opener despite 19 turnovers and shooting 36 percent in the first half. They also were outrebounded for much of the game but turned up the intensity inside down the stretch to finish with a 43-38 advantage.
“Are you kidding me?” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “Did you guys see what we saw? What I just told them in the locker room was obviously a game like tonight shows you what makes this team so special.”
Maryland also performed a season best at the free throw line, making 22 of 24 for 92 percent and limited Georgia Tech to 1 for 5 from three-point range in the second half. Senior center Sasha Goodlet led Georgia Tech with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore guard Tyaunna Marshall (Elizabeth Seton) had 16 points, four assists and three steals.
Trailing 56-36 with 17 minutes 39 seconds to play, Maryland roared back thanks in large part to Thomas, who scored 11 points in a 17-1 run that took just more than five minutes. It began with Thomas’s three-point play, and after Goodlet made 1 of 2 foul shots, Thomas sank a baseline jumper and banked in another field goal to cut the deficit to 57-45 with 15 minutes 8 seconds to play
Mincy got Maryland to 10 with a jumper, and Thomas’s layup brought the Terrapins under double figures for the first time since the start of the second half. Mincy made a layup shortly thereafter, and with the crowd in a frenzy, Georgia Tech Coach MaChelle Joseph called timeout.
“I felt like we came out here with a good game plan,” said Joseph, whose team outrebounded Maryland in the first half, 26-18. “We got on our toes, and we attacked early, and we were able to control the boards in the first half and stop transition baskets, the two things that Maryland does.”
After the teams exchanged points, Maryland scored six of the next eight points, all from the free throw line. Thomas converted two more foul shots to bring Maryland within 63-61, but Georgia Tech expanded it to 68-61 with two foul shots from Marshall and Walthour’s three-point play.
The Yellow Jackets (11-4, 1-1) grew the lead to 72-64 with 4:23 left before Maryland used a 9-2 burst over three minutes to trail 74-73 with 1:40 to go. DeVaughn’s rebound follow began the surge, and Mincy’s pullup jumper in the lane on a fast break ended it to set up the thrilling finish.
“I think after halftime we knew we had to do the little things to get back into this game,” said Thomas, the reigning ACC rookie of the year. “So we all took care of what we needed to do and just kind of chipped away little by little.”
●DUKE 76, WAKE FOREST 58: Freshman Elizabeth Williams had 18 points, 16 rebounds and a conference-record 12 blocks for her first triple-double to lead the No. 7 Blue Devils to a win in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Duke, (11-2, 2-0 ACC), which beat the Demon Deacons (10-4, 0-1) for the 36th straight time, had a 57-36 rebounding advantage and limited Wake Forest to 29 percent shooting from the floor.
Lakevia Boykin scored 25 points for the Demon Deacons.