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GREENSBORO, N.C. - ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas scored a career-high 29 points and carried the Maryland Terrapins to a 68-65 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Sunday afternoon in the Greensboro Coliseum. The win gave the Terrapins their first ACC Women's Basketball Championship since 2009 and their league-leading 10th overall.
Thomas ended up on the winning side of a championship-worthy battle that also featured Georgia Tech senior Sasha Goodlett and sophomore Tyaunna Marshall. Thomas scored 13 of Tech's first 17 points and then 10 points in the final 10 minutes to lead her team to victory. She also blocked a Chelsea Regins layup that preserved Maryland's 65-63 lead with 34 seconds remaining and made two free throws to give the third-seeded Terps a 67-63 advantage with 23 seconds to play. Marshall tallied a steal and two free throws in the final 12 seconds, but her 3-pointer to tie the game at the buzzer fell short.
"Alyssa is by far the most competitive player I've ever coached and I've coached a lot of great players," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "Her will to win - our team just wants to follow her lead, and she was sensational."
Goodlett and Marshall carried fourth-seeded Georgia Tech to within three points of the victory. Marshall scored 12 of her team-high 25 points in the final eight minutes. Goodlett tallied 20 points and a game-high eight rebounds in the contest.
"I'm very pleased with my team's effort," Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. "I thought they were competing for 40 minutes at a very high level, in particular on the defensive end. I am pleased with the way we played, going rebound for rebound with Maryland, the best rebounding team in the country. I also felt like Sasha was getting double- and triple-teamed and really did a tremendous job of keeping her composure. Even though Ty started out the game struggling, I really felt like she stepped up and carried this team down the stretch and really grew up a lot in the second half. (She) showed a lot of toughness and poise and really just made plays on the offensive end when we needed it. Overall, I was very pleased with our `never-say-die' attitude, our toughness and our perseverance."
Seniors Lynetta Kizer (11 points) and Kim Rodgers (10 points) joined tournament MVP Thomas as Terps in double-digit scoring. Rodgers hit back-to-back threes in a span of 35 seconds to help keep the Yellow Jackets at bay.
"It was an incredible win obviously over a great Georgia Tech team," said Frese. "All season long, we've talked about being 12 strong, and obviously to win an ACC Championship you have to be able to do that. I'm just so happy for our seniors to be able to walk in as freshmen as ACC Champions and to leave as seniors as ACC Champions."
Maryland improved to 28-4 and earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Georgia Tech, which had won seven in a row, dropped to 24-8.
2012 ACC Women's Basketball All-Tournament Team
Alyssa Thomas, Maryland - MVP
Sasha Goodlett, Georgia Tech
Marissa Kastanek, NC State
Lynetta Kizer, Maryland
Tyaunna Marshall, Georgia Tech
Chelsea Gray, Duke
Chelsea Douglas, Wake Forest
Tianna Hawkins, Maryland
Shawnice Wilson, Miami
Metra Walthour, Georgia Tech
TOURNAMENT NOTES, CHAMPIONSHIP