The Lady Terps took care of business today against the Demon Deacons, beating 7th seeded Wake Forest by 15, 73-58. Maryland was led by sophomore forward and ACC player of the year Alyssa Thomas, who had four assists to go along with a game high 18 points and 12 rebounds.
The Terps played well for a team that finished their last game just 15 hours earlier, shooting 52.8% from the floor. But fatigue might have been a factor at the start of the game as Maryland turned the ball over three times in the first three minutes. Fortunately for Maryland, Wake missed their first five shots and turned the ball over two times. After a few sloppy minutes, both teams settled into their offense. The game remained close throughout the first half, with both teams tied at 20 with just over six minutes remaining. That's when Thomas scored six quick points for the Terps, letting everyone at the Greensboro Coliseum know why she was the conference's play of the year. Maryland entered halftime with a six point lead, 33-27.
While Maryland's play seemed to improve as the game went on, the Demon Deacons (19-13, 7-9 ACC) just couldn't get shots to fall. Wake shot just 29.7% from the field, including 5-19 from three-point range.
The second half saw Maryland quickly build on their halftime lead. While Wake would at times cut the lead back down to six, they could never get any closer. Maryland finally pulled away behind the play of Lynetta Kyser (12 pts, 4 rebs, 2 steals), Laurin Mincy (13 pts, 7 rebs, 4 assists), and Tianna Hawkins (10 pts, 5 rebs).
The ACC Tournament shaped up nicely for Maryland after yesterday's quarterfinals saw both Duke and Miami lose. Those two teams accounted for three of Maryland's four losses this season. The Terps will be playing in the ACC Championship game for the third time in the last seven year. The last time Maryland played in the game was in 2009, when they beat Duke 92-89.
Maryland will face #16 Georgia Tech Sunday at 2:00. The Yellow Jackets, who are the tournament's 4-seed, beat NC State earlier in the day, 87-61. Maryland beat the Yellow Jackets twice in the regular season, 77-74 at home on January 6th and 64-56 on February 6th in Atlanta.
Ironically, the women will be playing at the same time as the men tomorrow, but it's the women who will be televised on ESPN 2, while the men will appear on the local ACC affiliate.
Congrats to Maryland, who's fought hard all season. If they win tomorrow, I suspect they could grab a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney. But before that, hopefully they'll be raising an ACC Tournament banner in Comcast after tomorrow's game.