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Tianna Hawkins powers Terps women to 88-61 win over Wake Forest

The ninth-ranked Maryland women's basketball had begun to pull away in its regular season finale Sunday afternoon when the Terps backslid briefly, surrendering consecutive 3-pointers near the end of the first half that allowed Wake Forest a glimmer of hope.

Then in the closing seconds before intermission, senior forward Tianna Hawkins collected a pass from Alyssa Thomas on a fast break, pulled up behind the 3-point line and swished a jumper at the buzzer to send Maryland into the locker room with momentum.

The Terps never looked back after that in an 88-61 victory in front of 6,474 at Comcast Center on a senior day in which Hawkins finished with game highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds for her ACC-leading 18th double-double. It was the first time Hawkins has made multiple 3-pointers in a game, underscoring the versatility of the ACC's leading scorer, who's having the most productive season of her career.

"It was just a great feeling to see how much support our fans give us each day," said Hawkins, who along with senior Caitlin Adams was recognized during a pregame ceremony. "It was a great feeling to have my teammates have my back and also my coaches."

Four other players scored in double-figures for Maryland (23-6, 14-4 ACC), which ended a two-game slide and beat Wake Forest for a 14th consecutive time. Thomas finished with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting with eight rebounds and seven assists, and junior guard Sequoia Austin had a career-high 15 points.

Maryland shot 53 percent, outrebounded the Demon Deacons, 40-26, and owned a 42-24 advantage in points in the paint and 24-10 on second-chance points. The Terps forced 20 turnovers and got 30 points from their reserves, including 13 on 5-for-8 shooting from freshman forward-center Malina Howard.

"It starts with our confidence," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I thought you saw us play really aggressive and with confidence, shooting shots and really making shots easier for one another. I thought our guard play was really good, being able to get passes inside and out offensively. We know our defense can always be there, but to be able to have both was really good to see."

A 19-3 run early in the game got Maryland started, and it included seven points from Austin. By the time she stole the ball and dribbled the length of the court for a layup, the Terps were ahead, 21-6. The margin expanded to 19 moments later, but Wake Forest (12-18, 5-13) closed to 35-22 before Hawkins' 3-pointer.

The third-leading rebounder in school history made her second 3-pointer with 14:23 left in regulation for a 54-30 lead that capped a 16-5 flurry coming out of halftime. Hawkins had made four 3-pointers combined in her previous 130 games.

The Terps made 5 of 12 3-pointers overall in their final tune-up before the ACC tournament starts Thursday in Greensboro, N.C. The Terps are guaranteed a first-round bye as either the No. 2 or 3 seed, depending the outcome of Sunday night's game between Duke and North Carolina, which also is contention for the second seed.

If the Tar Heels lose to the ACC regular-season champion, the No. 2 seed will be determined by a coin flip because Maryland, which is the reigning ACC tournament champion, and North Carolina split during the regular season and finished even in all the other tiebreakers.

"Very important," Thomas said when asked about ensuring Hawkins a victory in her last regular season game at Comcast. "With everything that she's done for us and this program, we just wanted her got out with a bang for her on senior day."

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