The Maryland women's basketball team opened their final ACC season with a bang. Facing their first ranked opponent since suffering their only loss of the season (when they dropped a 72-55 decision to Connecticut on November 15), the Terps traveled to Chapel Hill where they defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels by a 79-70 final score.
The Terps led 40-31 at halftime thanks to some excellent and timely shooting. Maryland was 44.4% from the floor, led by 13 points from freshman Shatori Kimbrough-Walker (with seven rebounds) and 11 from star forward Alyssa Thomas.
Every time North Carolina rallied, Maryland responded with a three-pointer. UNC pulled the lead to 44-37 early in the second half, but two straight three-pointers by Katie Rutan made it 50-37 -- the largest lead of the game at that point. Rutan hit another three pointer (her fourth) after another Tar Heel bucket soon after, make it 53-39.
UNC went on a bit of a run before the 12-minute mark, bringing the score down to 57-46 after a three from Brittany Roundtree. After a Maryland timeout, Roundtree hit a layup to bring the Maryland lead down to single digits. Alicia DeVaughn battled for a tough rebound and drew a foul, making both to halt the Tar Heel run.
Maryland went on a cold stretch, hitting one of 11 shots as the lead fell to 61-55. Thomas got the offensive rebounds and the putback on shot number 11, making it 63-55 with around six minutes to play. On Maryland's next possession, Thomas picked up yet another offensive rebound and made the turnaround shot to put the lead back up at 10.
With less than four minutes to play, Diamond Deshields put up a monster block on Alyssa Thomas, leading to a foul on Xylina McDaniel, with a chance to bring the deficit to within six. She missed both, and Maryland was able to keep the lead at eight. McDaniel was called for travelling on UNC's next possession, leading to a foul on Thomas. The star hit both free throws, putting the lead at 10 and the game out of reach.
Thomas finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, recording her 13th straight double-double -- an unbelievable achievement, as she has done so in every game besides the opener. The Terps next play Thursday at home against Wake Forest. Todd will have more on this game Monday.