The eighth ranked Maryland Terrapins traveled to Chapel Hill to tackle the (ranked somewhere – 15th AP / 23rd Coaches) North Carolina Tar Heels in the second ACC contest for each team. The team was joined by a small but vocal group of Maryland fans whose cheers of, “Let’s goooooo, Mar-y-land” were occasionally audible on the ESPN3 feed.
The Terps started off a bit tight hitting the back iron on a number of open jumpers before Alyssa Thomas broke the ice with a jump shot from 15 feet. Fortunately, through a combination of Carolina nerves and solid Maryland defense, the home team also dropped in a single shot – albeit a three pointer. A lay up by Tianna Hawkins would give the Terps a 4-3 lead at the first media time out. Both teams settled into a bit of a rhythm as the ball started finding the net more regularly. Maryland faced a bit of adversity early on when freshman point guard Chloe Pavlech picked up her second foul with just under 13 minutes remaining. But Sequoia Austin came in to give the Terrapins some solid minutes while sharing the ball handling duties with Alyssa Thomas. On Carolina’s side, their star freshman and second leading scorer picked up her second with 10 minutes to go and her third with 4 minutes remaining in the half. The Terps also got a solid early contribution from Katie Rutan who came off the bench to make two steals, take a charge and hit a three point jump shot. Maryland extended its lead to as much as 10 before a Carolina run brought the Heels within two but the Terps finished the half with a mini-run to take a 35-29 lead into the half.
The second half was a completely different scenario as Carolina parlayed aggressive defense and rebounding and a spate of Maryland turnovers (4 on their first 6 possessions), poor shooting and missed free throws from unexpected sources (Hawkins and Rutan) into a 17-1 run. Seeing their first half rebounding edge disappear and unable to make a basket, the Terps found themselves facing a 10 point deficit. Maryland finally found the hole on a Tianna Hawkins lay up nearly eight minutes into the half. The Terrapins shooting woes continued deep into the half with the Terps hitting only two of their first twenty shots. Much of this was due to tough UNC defense but Maryland was also its own worst enemy missing several open lay ups and jumpers. Carolina was able to maintain a solid working margin throughout most of the half with Maryland unable to get closer than six. Until...
In the last minutes, Carolina gave the Terps every chance to tie or win the game by missing 6 of 7 free throws in the last minute and a half as Maryland inched ever closer but a crucial missed lay up on an inbounds play followed by two more missed opportunities on offensive rebounds left the Terps short. After grabbing an offensive rebound on a missed free throw, the Heels still left the door open for Maryland by missing one of those aforementioned free throws. Trailing by 3, the Terps managed two long passes to an apparently open Katie Rutan for what could have been a tying 3 pointer. However, in a scene reminiscent of last year’s win over Duke at Comcast, a Carolina player came from seemingly nowhere to block the shot out of bounds. With 1.9 seconds left, Maryland managed one last look but Rutan’s long three point effort came up just short as did the Terrapins, falling by a final score of 60-57.