Thomas, Terps reign over ACC
Tournament MVP scores 29 in triumph over Georgia Tech
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.”