Thomas, Terps reign over ACC

Tour­na­ment MVP scores 29 in triumph over Ge­or­gia Tech

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY JOEDY MCCREARY

GREENS­BORO, N.C. | Alyssa Thomas scored a ca­reer-high 29 points, and No. 6 Mary­land beat No. 15 Ge­or­gia Tech 68-65 on Sun­day to win the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship.

Lynetta Kizer had 11 points and Kim Rodgers added 10 to help the third-seeded Ter­rap­ins (28-4) claim their 10th ACC tour­na­ment ti­tle and sec­ond in four years.

Tyaunna Mar­shall scored 18 of her 25 points in the sec­ond half, and Sasha Goodlett added 20 points for the fourth-seeded Yel­low Jack­ets (24-8), who were de­nied their first league tour­na­ment ti­tle.

They had one last chance to force over­time af­ter An­jale Bar­rett’s missed free throw with 9.4 sec­onds re­main­ing kept it a three-point game.

Ge­or­gia Tech called time with 5.6 sec­onds left and got the ball to Mar­shall, whose con­tested 22-footer failed to hit the rim as the buzzer sounded.

That gave the league’s au­to­matic NCAA berth to Mary­land, which be­came the low­est seeded team to win the tour­na­ment since Clem­son did it as a No. 4 seed in 1999.

Thomas, just the sec­ond sopho­more in ACC his­tory to earn its Player of the Year award, was named MVP of the tour­na­ment af­ter scor­ing at least 18 points in each of her three games.

The Yel­low Jack­ets gave them­selves plenty of chances down the stretch of this one, af­ter eras­ing a seven- point deficit with an 11-2 run. They led 63-61 on Mar­shall’s free throw with 2:05 left, but Kizer tied it on the Terps’ next trip down­court by hit­ting a layup in the post. Bar­rett added the go-ahead layup with just more than a minute re­main­ing.

Then came the se­quence that may haunt Ge­or­gia Tech. Mar­shall missed a jumper in the lane, Goodlett came up empty on a layup and Chelsea Rig­gins’ layup was blocked by Thomas with about 30 sec­onds left.

Af­ter Thomas hit two free throws with 22.7 sec­onds left, Mar­shall added two foul shots with 12.3 sec­onds re­main­ing to pull the Yel­low Jack­ets to 67-65. Bar­rett hit her first free throw, but missed the sec­ond to give Ge­or­gia Tech one final shot.

Mary­land won its sev­enth straight and be­came the first team to beat Ge­or­gia Tech three times in a sea­son since 2003-04.

The ti­tle game had an un­fa­mil­iar feel be­cause for the first time since 1993 — when Virginia beat Mary­land — none of the four North Carolina-based schools reached the cham­pi­onship game. The top two seeds, No. 5 Duke and No. 7 Mi­ami, were knocked out in con­sec­u­tive quar­ter­fi­nals, and that left the Ter­rap­ins as the clear fa­vorite be­fore they had even played their opener.

They took ad­van­tage, rolling past Virginia in the quar­ter­fi­nals be­fore dis­patch­ing Wake For­est in the semis to make it to their 13th cham­pi­onship game. Ge­or­gia Tech, mean­while, took care of two lo­cal teams on its way to its sec­ond ti­tle-game ap­pear­ance, edg­ing North Carolina be­fore rout­ing N.C. State.

Mary­land bas­ket­ball coach Mark Tur­geon put it rather sim­ply:

“What it re­ally comes down to is Mike Scott. He was the best player on the floor. He made play, af­ter play, af­ter play.”

No. 24 Virginia’s se­nior for­ward scored a ca­reer-high 35 points and grabbed 11 re­bounds as the Cava­liers spoiled Mary­land’s se­nior day by de­feat­ing the Terps 75-72 in over­time.

“I wish he would haven’t have broke his foot last year,” Tur­geon said jok­ingly, be­cause Scott would have grad­u­ated al­ready had it not been for in­jury.

The 6-foot-8 for­ward made a liv­ing Sun­day af­ter­noon with nearly in­de­fen­si­ble fade­away jumpers along the base­line to help give Virginia the fourth seed in the ACC tour­na­ment. Mary­land will take the eighth seed.

“It’s def­i­nitely a big win,” Scott said. “We beat Mary­land pretty bad at home, and I told my teammates that they were go­ing to come out swing­ing, and they did. We took some punches, but I think we fi­nally punched them back at the end.”

Play­ing in his final home game, Mary­land se­nior guard Sean Mosley scored 17 points and pulled down 10 re­bounds.

“You can tell it was his last home game,” Tur­geon said. “He re­ally left it out there.”

Sopho­more guard Ter­rell Stoglin led the Ter­rap­ins with 25 points and Fresh­man Nick Faust chipped in 13.

Mary­land (16-14, 6-10) fought back from a 31-22 deficit at half­time. The Terps shot just 33.3 per­cent from the field and missed all six foul shots in the first 20 min­utes.

Mary­land was down four when Mosely pulled up and launched a 3-pointer with about 121/ min­utes re­main­ing in the sec­ond half.

As the ball swished through the hoop, the stu­dent sec­tion erupted, wav­ing white tow­els and jump­ing up and down to the beat the elec­tronic song “Take Over Con­trol.”

It ap­peared that the Terps were about to do just that. The 3pointer capped an 18-10 run to open the first half and pull Mary­land to 41-40.

But over the next 41/ min­utes, Mary­land be­gan to again lose con­trol of the game. James Pad­gett fell to the ground on a spin move on one pos­ses­sion, and in an­other an er­rant pass flew wildly off a cam­era and then into the stands, as Virginia opened a 12-point lead.

“When I hit that three to put us down by one, Virginia wasn’t ever go­ing to give up. We knew that and coach knew that,” Mosley said. “So we just wanted to con­tinue to play hard and run into tran­si­tion and get stops on the de­fen­sive end.”

Mary­land clawed back into the con­test over the final min­utes and trailed by one with about a minute re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion time.

“We called a time­out and ran a play for [Mosley] since he was a se­nior,” Tur­geon said. But the se­nior’s shot, like the come­back at­tempt, fell short.

Virginia re­sponded with a bas­ket to pull ahead by three. But Stoglin nailed a 3-pointer with seven sec­onds on the clock to tie it at 61.

In over­time, Scott con­tin­ued where he left off, scor­ing seven of Virginia’s 14 points in the ex­tra time to put away the Terps.

“There is some­thing about that loss that re­ally hurt,” Mosley said. “But at the end of the day, we fought hard and that’s the only thing I can ask for.”

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