The eighth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team failed to protect a double-digit lead in the first half, then trailed by 11 late in the game before staging a frantic comeback that wasn't enough to overcome an extended shooting lull in a 60-57 loss to No. 15 North Carolina Thursday night at Carmichael Arena.
Despite missing 17 of 19 shots during one stretch in the second half and needing eight minutes to score their first field goal after the break, the Terps had two chances to tie in the final seconds. First, Katie Rutan's 3-point attempt was blocked by Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, and another 3-pointer from the junior guard hit the front of the rim as time expired to end Maryland's six-game winning streak.
"Obviously a tough environment, as always, to come in here," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I thought Carolina did a tremendous job of taking us out of everything we wanted to do on the offensive end. It was a tough, physical game, but credit them in terms of how they defended and rebounded the basketball tonight."
The Terps (10-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) got 15 points and game highs of 16 rebounds, six assists and four steals from All-American Alyssa Thomas, who scored all nine of her second-half points in the closing 5minutes, 36 seconds. The ACC Player of the Year's final field goal with 13 seconds left drew Maryland to within 59-57, but North Carolina's Krista Gross made the first of two foul shots, and the Tar Heels held on to win their seventh in a row.
Tianna Hawkins added a game-high 23 points for Maryland but was unusually inaccurate. Entering the game second in the nation in field-goal percentage (.647) and second on the Terps from the foul line (88.2percent), the senior forward missed 12 of 21 shots and six of 11 free throws.
Maryland made nine of 17 free throws for its lowest percentage of the season and nearly 25 percent below its season average. The Terps also finished 32 percent from the field, another season low, and went 8-for-34 in the second half, 0-for-8 from 3-point range.
"Just us not coming out, not being focused," Thomas said. "The coaches prepared us for what they were going to do, jump out on us and pressure us, but we didn't respond."
No. 21 Florida State
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