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Photo Courtesy of Greg Fiume, Maryland Athletics
Thomas’ career-high 33 powers Maryland past top-seeded Tennessee
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Maryland coach Brenda Frese wanted her Terrapins to send a reminder that they're still playing, too. They did just that by sending home an eight-time national champion and putting themselves a win away from a Final Four.
Alyssa Thomas scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as fourth-seeded Maryland upset No. 1 seed Tennessee 73-62 on Sunday in the Louisville Region semifinal at the KFC Yum! Center.
The Terrapins (27-6) reached their ninth Elite Eight and fifth in Frese’s 12 years. They did it against a program the Terps had beaten only four times previously and never before in the NCAA tournament.
Thomas scored the most points allowed to a single player by Tennessee (29-6) this season, and she also extended her school record with her 65th career double-double. Lexie Brown added 14 points, Laurin Mincy had 11 and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough 10. But Warlick said Thomas hurt them the most with Tennessee unable to find a way to stop her.
The Terrapins trailed only once at 3-2 before taking control for good using a 13-2 spurt. Maryland dominated inside with a 38-28 scoring edge in the paint, and the Terrapins also outrebounded Tennessee 38-28. The only place the Lady Vols dominated was at the free-throw line, hitting more there (20 of 27) than from the floor (19 of 53).
Maryland led 41-27 at halftime, the biggest deficit Tennessee had faced all season. The Lady Vols rallied from double digits in each of their games to win the Southeastern Conference tournament title, but they found themselves needing the biggest comeback for this program since Jan. 3, 2009, when they beat Rutgers after trailing by 23.
The Terrapins pushed their lead to as much as 18 when Thomas scored to put the Terrapins up 51-33 with 12:11 left. Tennessee finally put together its best stretch of the game but couldn't get closer than eight with Simmons scoring 17 in the second half trying to spark the rally. Each time the Lady Vols scored, Maryland, or rather Thomas, responded with bucket after bucket.
Maryland will take on fourth-seeded Louisville or seventh-seeded LSU Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Regional Final.
This marks Maryland’s 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance and 10th in head coach Brenda Frese’s 12 years. She's led Maryland to five Elite Eights, six Sweet Sixteens, a Final Four and the 2006 NCAA Championship. Her all-time record with Maryland in the Tournament is 23-8 (.742).
The Terrapins are a top four seed for the 13th time in school history No. 4 seed for the third time. They are 5-2 all-time as the fourth-seed.
Thomas became Maryland’s all-leading scorer in the men’s or women’s history in the NCAA First Round. She passed Juan Dixon (2,269) and currently has 2,320 career points
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Diamond DeShields escaped two close calls with injury to score 19 points, leading North Carolina one win closer to a sweet reunion with healing coach Sylvia Hatchell by beating top-seeded South Carolina 65-58 in the Stanford Regional semifinals on Sunday night.
Brittany Rountree converted a pair of free throws with 1:14 left and two more at the 36.4-second mark to help seal it for the No. 4 seed Tar Heels (27-9), who backed up their December victory against the Gamecocks with another on the NCAA tournament stage.
North Carolina players lingered well after the final buzzer handshakes, with DeShields holding Stephanie Mavunga in a long embrace. Mavunga, who contributed 13 points, nine rebounds and three steals, then lifted Jessica Washington into the air as the guard raised her arm in triumph.
North Carolina needs one more win to be reunited with Hatchell, whose doctors have said she could travel to the Final Four in Nashville, Tenn., after recently undergoing her final chemotherapy session for leukemia.
Hatchell hasn't coached this season after being diagnosed with leukemia in October, though she does plenty of game planning with associate coach Andrew Calder by phone
DeShields threw everything at advancing her team to Tuesday night's regional final against second-seeded Stanford (32-3).
The Atlantic Coast Conference's top freshman blocked South Carolina's opening shot of the second half, and jumped in the passing lane for a steal six minutes later.
Teams have tried every last trick to try to stop her -- and DeShields didn't even let a couple of scary injury moments keep her off the court for long.
The arena fell silent when DeShields first went down with an apparent right ankle injury just 2:23 into the game.
It didn't hinder the Tar Heels much. DeShields returned five minutes later and hit a jumper to push North Carolina's lead to 11-6.
She went down again at the 7:51 mark, grabbing left leg before hustling to the bench with a limp and grimacing in pain. She scored under the basket on the play.
Following the media timeout, she came back out, calmly hit a free throw to complete the three-point play and give Tar Heels a 20-10 advantage, and then returned to the bench.
On a late possession in the first half, she knocked down a baseline jumper with the shot clock winding down to put her team ahead 29-15. But there would be one more scary moment. With 1:09 to play in the half, DeShields slammed into the basket support and bounced right back.
The Tar Heels shot 42.9 percent from the field in the first half -- with DeShields going 5 of 10.
The Tar Heels have said it all along, and did so once more in Saturday's lead-up, that they are motivated daily by Hatchell's ordeal. In every practice and every game, she weighs on their minds and in their hearts.