By Rob Clough, Photos by Orin Day
The Nutshell: In one of the best ACC quarterfinal games of all time, Maryland outdueled Wake Forest in overtime. Quite honestly, Maryland looked sluggish on defense for much of the game, giving up a number of wide-open shots and easy lanes to the hoop. The Terps led by as many as 9 in the first half but kept letting Wake hang around thanks to 19 points by Chelsea Douglas. She was blowing by Katie Rutan and Chloe Pavlech at will, squeezing through tiny gaps in the defense and knocking down quick-release jump shots. Her fellow gunslinger Lakevia Boykin had 9 in the first half and 17 in the game as the Terps struggled to deal with Wake's three guard offense.
In the second half, Wake went up by 7 six minutes into the half but missed 3 foul shots in a row. Given a bit of a reprieve, Maryland went on a comeback and tied the game up twice, but Douglas hit a short jumper and drained a three with eight minutes to go. A Maryland turnover led to Boykin hitting a shot, but Alyssa Thomas quickly answered with a drive and a beautiful pass to Rutan on the run. With about five minutes to go in the game, you could see the Wake players with their hands on their hips on the foul line--they were getting tired. Sandra Garcia of Wake put them up 2 with foul shots, but Rutan sank a big corner three to put the Terps up by 1. Garcia got a stickback and a three point play to make it 73-71. In the biggest shot of her young career, Malina Howard hit a three with the shot clock running down. Wake was hanging on by their fingernails as Boykin got the lead back with a jumper. Thomas got fouled and hit both, but Boykin hit another shot to make it 77-76. Frosh Chloe Pavlech sank an enormous trey to make it 79-77 with 32 seconds left. Douglas missed on a layup, but Garcia executed a perfect backwards flop in the vicinity of Thomas and drew a foul. Garcia coolly made both to send the game to overtime. Once there, the Terps quickly took control of a Wake team that could barely walk and had three of its players foul out. A tired but elated Maryland team will advance to the ACC semifinals in hopes of defending its championship.
Why Maryland Won: They shot extremely well from the three point line (9-15), which allowed them to stay in the game. The Terps were +11 on the boards and were smart enough to go to Thomas early and often.
Why Wake Forest Lost: They simply ran out of gas and could never really match up with Thomas. Playing a second intense, physical game in as many days took a toll on their legs down the stretch. Shots Douglas fired up without hesitation early in the game suddenly became more hesitant. They also collapsed on the post so intently that they didn't cover Maryland's shooters, who got plenty of wide open looks.
The Game Turned When...: Thomas scored the first points of overtime. Maryland scored the first ten points of overtime as it was clear that Wake had nothing left, and Thomas looked like she could have played another few overtimes with ease.
X-Factor: Alicia DeVaughn. She had a quiet 9 points and 13 rebounds to go with 4 blocks. She absolutely shut down Wake forward Dearica Hamby, the one Wake starter who didn't have a big game against the Terps. Considering Wake's lack of a bench, that was just enough to get a Maryland win.
Areas For Improvement: The Terps didn't do a great job taking care of the ball (17 turnovers leading to 21 Wake points), nor did they stop the Deacs in transition (12 points).
Ramifications: Maryland avoided a potentially, embarrassing, seed-damaging loss. Playing overtime for a team that basically only uses six players could hurt in the semifinals. Wake's seniors went out with their heads high, though one wonders how on earth they lost 19 games with the scoring potential on this roster.
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