Terps are Champs of ACC

The Terps topped Georgia Tech 68-65 to win the 10th ACC championship in program history.

It took three days and 120 hard-fought minutes of play, but at the end of the tournament weekend it was the Maryland Terrapins who rose to the top. The Terps hung on to defeat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 68-65, to win the 10th ACC championship in program history.

The Terrapins, who entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, defeated Virginia, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech to claim their first tournament title since 2009.

The championship game, like much of the tournament, belonged to Alyssa Thomas, who poured in a career-high 29 points in the final and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. The honor came just days after the sophomore was named the ACC Player of the Year.

Thomas was outscoring the Yellow Jackets by herself for much of the first half before her teammates took over. After a Sydney Wallace three-pointer pulled the Jackets within two with 4:22 left in the first half, Tianna Hawkins, Laurin Mincy, and Lynetta Kizer all scored to put the Terps up eight. But Georgia Tech battled back, cutting the lead back to two when Tyaunna Marshall - who finished with 25 points - swished in a contested three at the halftime buzzer.

The wild second half featured eight lead changes as each team gave everything they had with the championship on the line. With 8:13 left and Maryland leading by just one, Kim Rodgers hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions to put the Terps up five. Their lead would grow to seven before the Jackets made another run, taking the lead on a jumper by Marshall with less than three minutes left.

A jumper by Kizer tied it, and with a minute to go Anjale Barrett drove down the lane for a lay-up that put the Terps up two. On the ensuing possession Georgia Tech missed three shots and was then forced to foul Thomas, who made both free throws. A turnover on the inbounds play gave the Jackets life, and they cut the lead to two with 12 seconds left and quickly fouled Barrett, who made just one of her two free throws.

With five seconds left and the Terrapins up three, the Jackets had a chance to tie but Marshall's three-point attempt at the buzzer missed everything and Maryland's celebration began.

The closeness of the game was reflected in the stat sheet, as the two teams shot nearly identical percentages (roughly 45%) and the Terps only out-rebounded Georgia Tech by two. Seniors Kizer and Rodgers were key off the bench for Maryland, scoring 11 and 10, respectively. After struggling to hold onto the ball through the first two games of the tournament, the Terps took much better care in this one, turning it over just 12 times.

With an ACC Championship under their belt, the Terps can now check off one of their season goals. Yet the larger goal of a National Title looms, and Maryland, a likely No. 2 seed, will now wait to officially find out their seeding and region in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Comcast Center will be a hosting site for the Terps' first and second round games. The selection show will take place on March 12, with the NCAA Tournament starting on the 17th.

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