COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland women's basketball team lost the rebounding battle. The Terps' best post player couldn't buy a basket in the first half. And the squad nearly squandered a 16-point lead in the second half.
And yet, No. 6 Maryland dug deep and found a way to beat a pesky Georgia Tech team, 79-71, before 2,796 at Comcast Center last night.
Sophomore center Crystal Langhorne, who scored just four points in the first half, finished with a game-high 23 points and five rebounds. Junior guard Shay Doron scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half.
And freshman forward Marissa Coleman contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds to lift the Terps to 18-2 overall and 5-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"We're grinding things out," coach Brenda Frese said. "We're finding a way to be able to step up and play with confidence and be able to pull these things out."
The outlook for Maryland's fourth straight victory looked bleak as the Yellow Jackets (12-7, 1-5) scored 23 points off 20 offensive rebounds - the most offensive rebounds surrendered by the Terps this season.
Langhorne, the team's most efficient scorer with a .685 shooting percentage before last night's contest, missed six of her first seven shots in the first half, and Doron was forced to watch from the sideline after picking up her third foul with 12:03 left in the half.
But Coleman kept Maryland in the game by scoring 14 points, which included 2-for-3 shooting on three-pointers. It also helped that Georgia Tech sophomore guard Chioma Nnamaka, the team's second-leading scorer with an 11.2-point average, collected her second foul just 5:50 into the game and also sat out the rest of the half.
With the Terps leading 34-30 at halftime, Langhorne scored the second half's first six points - all on free throws - and Maryland eventually engineered a 17-5 run to take a 66-50 advantage with 6:23 left in the game.
But Nnamaka, playing with four fouls, scored 10 points during a 17-3 Yellow Jackets burst to shave the Terps' lead to 69-67 with 3:23 left.
That's when Langhorne answered again, scoring six consecutive points for Maryland, and Coleman and Doron combined to convert four free throws to seal the outcome.
Doron said she and Langhorne, as the team's more experienced players, weren't concerned about the tightness of the game or their troubles on the offensive end in the first half.
"Crystal and I have been through this a lot," she said. "We were feeling it, and the ball came to us. We did what we always do, and that's score."
Junior guard Stephanie Higgs paced Georgia Tech with 19 points and seven rebounds, and coach MaChelle Joseph said she was proud of her team's effort.
"We're the only team to hold Duke to single digits [in margin of victory]," she said of the team's 67-59 loss to the soon-to-be No. 1 Blue Devils on Jan. 11. "Our goal was to keep Maryland to 65 points, but they scored 79. They're a phenomenal offensive team."
Notes -- Frese announced that the team will redshirt junior guard Kalika France, who has not played a game because of offseason surgery on tendinitis on both knees. France will have two years of eligibility left. ... The Terps' 18-2 record is their best after 20 games since they started the 1991-92 season 19-1. firstname.lastname@example.org
GEORGIA TECH-J.Mitchell 2-6 1-1 5, Wilson 0-2 2-2 2, Terry 7-9 0-0 14, Higgs 6-24 5-6 19, Nnamaka 5-12 2-2 15, Ja.Williams 0-3 2-4 2, Ingram 1-6 4-4 7, Harpring 0-0 0-0 0, Je.Williams 0-0 1-2 1, A.Phillips 2-5 2-3 6, C.Phillips 0-0 0-0 0, D.Mitchell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-67 19-24 71. MARYLAND-Coleman 4-11 8-8 18, Perry 1-6 0-0 2, Langhorne 6-14 11-14 23, Newman 1-7 1-2 4, Doron 5-7 6-8 18, Harper 1-2 5-6 7, Toliver 1-4 2-2 5, Carr 0-1 0-0 0, Noirez 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-53 33-40 79. Halftime-Maryland 34-30. 3-point goals-Georgia Tech 6-15 (Nnamaka 3-7, Higgs 2-6, Ingram 1-2), Maryland 6-16 (Doron 2-3, Coleman 2-4, Toliver 1-4, Newman 1-5). Fouled out-Terry. Rebounds-Georgia Tech 42 (A.Phillips 8), Maryland 40 (Coleman 10). Assists-Georgia Tech 9 (Ingram 4), Maryland 15 (Newman 6). Total fouls-Georgia Tech 29, Maryland 19. A-2,796.