Thomas leads Terp women past Wake in ACC tourneyBy JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer Friday, Mar 8, 2013
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP)—Alyssa Thomas always seems to save her best games for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. It’ll be hard to improve on this one.
The Maryland star had the first triple-double in ACC tournament history, leading the 10th-ranked Terrapins to a 92-81 overtime victory over Wake Forest in a quarterfinal Friday night.
Thomas, who earlier in the week won her second ACC player of the year award, had a career-high 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for her second triple-double of the season.
She set a previous high with 29 points in Maryland’s victory over Georgia Tech in last year’s championship game.
“It’s one and done, and we don’t want to go home—we want to win a championship again,” Thomas said. “You’ve got to bring your best games.”
She helped the second-seeded Terrapins (24-6) sidestep a major scare against a Wake Forest team they beat by 26 points five nights earlier.
Maryland scored the first 10 points of OT, with Thomas starting the run by hitting a twisting layup with 3:45 left. Eight of her points came in overtime to help the Terps avoid just their second one-and-done in this tournament since 2003.
“What you see with (Thomas) is what makes her the two-time player of the year,” coach Brenda Frese said.
Maryland held the Demon Deacons to 0-for-7 shooting from the field in overtime. Their only points of OT came on two free throws by Chelsea Douglas with 1:03 left—and by then, the Terps were up by double figures.
“We weren’t playing our best defense and we knew that we didn’t want to go home in overtime,” guard Katie Rutan said. “We really locked down, especially at the end of the game when we needed our stops. … (and) just focused on defense on not letting them hit any shots.”
Douglas scored a career-high 31 points—a school scoring record in the tournament—for 10th-seeded Wake Forest (13-19), which ran out of steam in overtime and was denied its biggest victory since knocking off then-No. 7 Miami in last year’s quarterfinals.
“It’s a hard one to take and to know we were right there, and we were so close,” first-year coach Jen Hoover said.
Asia Williams scored 19 points, Lakevia Boykin added 17 and Sandra Garcia had 10 rebounds for the Demon Deacons, who were seeking their first win over the Terrapins since 2003. Douglas was 11 of 21 from the field while surpassing her previous high of 24 points set last month at Duke.
“I feel like we can play with anybody, honestly,” Douglas said. “It’s all about getting stops and rebounding, and I knew if we did those two things, we’d be right in the game.”
Tianna Hawkins had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Terps, while Chloe Pavlech had 14 points with four 3-pointers and Rutan scored 13. Alicia DeVaughn added 13 rebounds for Maryland, which shot 50 percent.
The lead changed hands on seven consecutive possessions in the final 3 1/2 minutes, with Pavlech’s open 3-pointer in the corner putting the Terps up 79-77 with 32.9 seconds left.
Wake Forest milked the clock before Douglas missed on a driving layup with about 7 seconds left. Garcia was fouled on the rebound by Thomas with 5.4 seconds left and hit both free throws to tie it at 79.
Maryland called a timeout but Rutan’s 3 in transition clipped the left side of the rim as time expired.
Maryland trailed 68-61 with just under 7 minutes left but reeled off seven straight points and tied it on Thomas’ fast-break layup with 5:15 to play. After that, neither team led by more than a bucket in regulation.
“We came up just a possession short today,” Hoover said.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.