The sixth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team overwhelmed North Carolina from the beginning Friday night, getting contributions from up and down its roster in an 84-64 victory on senior night before an announced 8,029 at Comcast Center.
In winning for the third time in a row and for the sixth time in seven games, the Terrapins secured a coveted first-round bye in next week's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. They got points from nine players, shot 49 percent from the field, held the Tar Heels to 33 percent shooting and outrebounded them 49-32.
Maryland shot 8-for-10 from 3-point range for its highest percentage of the season and made 14 of 18 from the free-throw line. The Terrapins beat North Carolina for a fourth consecutive time and logged their most lopsided victory since beating Clemson, 91-61, more than two weeks ago. It was Maryland's most comfortable home win since defeating Boston College, 86-44, on Feb. 2.
"We were in a really good rhythm obviously in the first half," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I thought we came with the knockout punch early that they were never able to recover from."
Sophomore forward Alyssa Thomas scored a team-high 20 points to lead three Maryland players in double figures. The ACC's leading scorer shot 9-for-17 and added a game-high 14 rebounds for her seventh double double this season and second in three games. She also had seven assists.
Sophomore center Alicia DeVaughn scored 10 of her 14 points in the first half and shot 7-for-10 for her second game in double figures in her past 13 and first at home since Jan. 6. Sophomore forward Laurin Mincy had 13 points and went 5-for-5 from the field to go along with five rebounds and three assists.
"Coach B stressed that we needed to come out and get the seniors a win, so we came out and played as hard as we could for them," Thomas said.
The victory moved Maryland (22-4, 11-4 ACC) into a third-place tie with Georgia Tech in the conference, but the Terrapins own the tiebreaker after having swept the Yellow Jackets during the regular season. The top four teams in the ACC are awarded byes in the four-day tournament that opens Thursday in Greensboro, N.C.
The evening began with a ceremony at center court honoring seniors Anjalé Barrett, Lynetta Kizer and Kim Rodgers before their final regular-season home game, and shortly thereafter, all three contributed to a blistering start that included 11 consecutive points and three 3-pointers in a row. Kizer made the first, and Rodgers (nine points, 3-for-4 3-pointers) followed with two more for a 10-point lead.
"It felt good," Rodgers said. "It's been a long five years here. The journey's been really nice, so just to hear my name that one last time in front of the home crowd was cool."
North Carolina (19-9, 9-6) called timeout moments later, but Maryland went on another run out of the stoppage. Barrett made one of two free throws to get it going, and six other players scored to help increase the margin to 26-8 with 9 minutes, 48 seconds to play.
The Terrapins surrendered one field goal over the first 5:36 and limited the Tar Heels to 25 percent shooting before halftime. North Carolina missed its first nine field-goal attempts.
The Tar Heels, who got a game-high 24 points from senior center Chay Shegog, had a glimmer of perhaps making matters competitive when senior guard She'la White made back-to-back 3-pointers, but the Terrapins countered with a 9-0 surge for a 45-19 lead with 2:41 left until the break.
"You couldn't have scripted a better night," Frese said. "You couldn't have scripted a better week, to beat Duke and Carolina in the same week. It's just a lot of fun."