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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thomas hits 29 to lead Maryland to 10th ACC Tourney championship

Posted by on Sun, Mar 4, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Sequoia Austin celebrates the Terrapins winning the ACC Womens Tournament.
  • Photo by Al Drago
  • Sequoia Austin celebrates the Terrapins winning the ACC Women's Tournament.

GREENSBORO COLISEUM It’s kind of an odd scene for the final day of this ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament, since for the first time since 1993 there’s nobody from North Carolina in the championship game.

No. 6 Maryland — the third seed in the tournament — will be a slight favorite against No. 15 Georgia Tech, which is the fourth seed.

And it’s like somebody forgot to tell the fans, as an announced crowd of 9,122 is in the house for the contest.

Maryland is the only out-of-state team ever to win the tournament since it found its permanent home in Greensboro in 2000, that happening three seasons ago. And Georgia Tech, which has its best team ever, made its only previous finals appearance in 1992.

Both teams will be in the NCAA Tournament without dissent when the selection committee meets. On the line is Maryland’s chance to move ahead of Duke to the No. 5 spot in the national rankings, as well as the Yellow Jackets’ chance to make a bid at the Top 10.

Maryland is going to be on the “2” line for NCAA pairings no matter what, and could be the first No. 2 ahead of Duke with a win today, which could affect who is assigned to the Raleigh Regional. If Georgia Tech wins, the Jackets likely move to the “3” line.

Maryland won both regular-season meetings, the last one 64-56 in Gwinnett.

This one is a war, and the Terps hang on to win 68-65.

Neither team ever leads by more than eight points, a margin the Terps accomplish four times in the first half.

The last of those comes at 1:47, when Lynetta Kizer hits a pair of free throws to make it 28-20. But the Jackets finish big, cutting it to 29-27 on Tyaunna Marshall’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.

There are four ties and eight lead changes in the second half.

Tech’s last lead is 63-61 following a Marshall free throw with 2:05 to go, and following field goals from Kizer at 1:42 and Anjale Barrett at 1:08 the Terps are ahead to stay.

Barrett hits a free throw with nine seconds left to complete the scoring, after which Marshall’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer is well off-target.

It’s the 10th ACC title for the Maryland, which becomes the first school to hit the double-figure mark in the 35-year-old event.

Thomas is named tournament MVP after pouring in 29 points, while Kizer hits 11 and also makes first-team all-tourney and Kim Rodgers chips in 10. The Terps’ Tianna Hawkins is second-team all-tourney.

Marshall finishes with 25 to make first-team all-tournament along with Sasha Goodlett, who scores 20. Tech’s Metra Walthour makes the second team.

Maryland shoots 44.4 percent to Tech’s 45.1, wins the rebound battle 31-29 and commits 12 turnovers to the Jackets’ 15.

N.C. State’s Marissa Kastanek makes the first team, while the others on the second are Duke’s Chelsea Gray, Wake Forest’s Chelsea Douglas and Miami’s Shawnice Wilson.

They said it …
Maryland coach Brenda Frese: “Alyssa has a great heartbeat and great power. Late in the game when we were in critical foul trouble we were able to move her into the post, flatten the game and send her with a ball screen to the basket. I like her versatility, her power, and most importantly her will to win.”

Ga. Tech coach MaChelle Joseph: “I thought my team was competing for 40 minutes at a very high level, in particular on the defensive end. I’m pleased with the way we played, going rebound-for-rebound with Maryland, the best rebounding team in the country. I also felt Sasha was getting double- and triple-teamed and really did a tremendous job keeping her composure. And even though Ty started out the game struggling, she stepped up and carried this team down the stretch.”

Thomas: “It’s been a roller coaster, finding out I was first-team All-ACC and then player of the year and now this. But the main focus was winning a championship. All the other stuff wasn’t as important.”

Marshall: “I kind of bounced back after struggling a little bit at the end of the season. Stepping up for my teammates and doing what I can for my team. I think this tournament can help us a lot in getting ready for the NCAAs so we can do something special.”

What does it all mean?

That Maryland may be the No. 5 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament. And that Georgia Tech probably did improve its standing with the selection committee this weekend.

Stars of the game
1. Thomas.
2. Goodlett.
3. Marshall.

Play of the game
Barrett’s layup to give Maryland the lead for good.

Streaks
Ga. Tech: Lost 1.
Maryland: Won 7.

Series
Maryland leads 46-18.

Up next
NCAA Tournament for both teams. The selection show is March 12.

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