The sixth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team completed a three-game ACC homestand behind steady and frequent free throw shooting and balanced scoring for a 92-81 victory over pesky Georgia Tech on Sunday afternoon in front of 5,109 at Comcast Center.
Senior forward Alyssa Thomas had 22 points on 7-for-14 shooting and collected 14 rebounds to match a game high in pushing the Terrapins to their 14th consecutive win. Freshman point guard Lexie Brown added 15 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, and senior center Alicia DeVaughn chipped in 13 points, including 11 of 12 from the foul line.
Maryland, which had five players score in double figures, made 35 of 43 foul shots (81 percent), getting to the line more than twice as many times as Georgia Tech (15 for 20). The Terrapins (16-1, 4-0 ACC) logged season highs in both free throws made and attempted and shot 53 percent from the field, which in part helped overcome a season-high 23 turnovers.
“Like I told the team, I mean, I compare these games with Tech like going to the dentist and getting drilled,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “Every time we play them in these matchups, they’re close, they’re tight. It’s tough, physical battles, and I thought we did a tremendous job, especially in the second half, staying under control with our poise.”
Georgia Tech (12-6, 2-3) has been a formidable match for Maryland, particularly in recent seasons. Even though the Terrapins had won five of six entering Sunday against their ACC rival, three of those victories were decided by three points. This time the Yellow Jackets again kept Maryland within reach even when the Terrapins used an 11-3 run to move ahead 61-51 early in the second half.
Thomas began the flurry with a field goal. Brown swished a three-pointer, and sophomore forward Tierney Pfirman (10 points) made 1 of 2 foul shots. Kaela Davis (game-high 27 points) sank a three-pointer for Georgia Tech, but Maryland countered with 5 of 6 free throws for its first double-digit lead with 14 minutes 19 seconds left in regulation.
The Yellow Jackets came right back with 10 of the next 14 points, including six from senior guard Tyaunna Marshall. Shortly thereafter, Marshall scored on an offensive rebound to get Georgia Tech within 69-65, but Maryland opened another double-figure lead with a 10-2 burst that concluded with four consecutive foul shots by Brown for a 79-67 margin with 4:50 to play. The Terrapins held on from there.
“Every time we play them it’s a war,” DeVaughn said. “It’s just not feeding into that and just trying to play your game and stay poised and just overlook and stick to the game plan.”
Maryland weathered a brief scare midway through the first half, when Thomas got poked in the eye while trying to secure a rebound. Play continued as the reigning two-time ACC player of the year gathered herself along the baseline underneath the basket, and after the Yellow Jackets scored, officials whistled for a stoppage.
Thomas went to the bench, where trainers attended to the all-American and national player of the year candidate. Three minutes later, Maryland’s fourth all-time leader in scoring and rebounds reentered with the Terrapins ahead 29-26.
“You expect it to be a very physical game, bodies flying,” Thomas said. “That’s just the type of game when we get together and match up against Georgia Tech.”