The No. 13 North Carolina women’s basketball team exacted some revenge on No. 8 Maryland Friday night in Greensboro, defeating the Terrapins 73-70 to improve to 24-8 on the season and advance to the ACC Tournament semifinals, where the Tar Heels will face No. 10 Duke.
With the loss, the Terrapins dropped to 24-6 on the season and finished their final ACC Tournament in disappointing fashion. Next year, Maryland will join the Big Ten.
The game featured two of the conference’s premier players in UNC’s Diamond DeShields and Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas. The pair lived up to their billings.
Freshman sensation DeShields put up 22 points while three-time ACC player of the year Thomas scored 24 points of her own to set the career scoring record for the Terps.
“Outstanding job by Carolina on the defensive end. Offensively we did some more things today. Again, you see the talent of Diamond DeShields going in the post and taking advantage of her outstanding skills also in the post. She’s not showed a lot of that this year, but she showed a variety of moves tonight,” Associate Head Coach Andrew Calder says.
Carolina used impressive defensive intensity to stymie the Maryland offensive attack early on and claim an 11-point advantage at halftime.
But Maryland came roaring back in the second half thanks to some inspiring play by Thomas that trimmed UNC’s lead down to a mere one point with under a minute remaining in the contest.
Crucially, Carolina’s Brittany Rountree hit two free throws with 16 seconds left to push the margin back out to three. And when Thomas missed a wide open three-pointer for the tie in the final seconds, the Tar Heels escaped with the win.
Allisha Gray provided a 17-point contribution while Xylina McDaniel posted 10 points for Carolina.
Next up for the Tar Heels is an opportunity to record a third win over their bitter rivals, the Duke Blue Devils. That semifinal is slated to tip off at 7:30 p.m. from the Greensboro Coliseum.
N.C. State and undefeated Notre Dame meet in the afternoon semifinal matchup. The winners will meet in Sunday night’s championship game.