The day after the Blue Ribbon Panel chose her as the 2013 ACC Player of the Year and the coaches of the ACC named her Co-Player of the Year along with Duke’s Chelsea Gray, Alyssa Thomas put on a performance that ACC basketball fans won’t soon forget.
Thomas was three assists shy of a triple-double with regulation winding down Friday evening at Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. Then, in clutch fashion, she recorded assist No. 8 by setting up a Katie Rutan three with 3:20 remaining that gave the Terps the lead. Assist No. 9, which led to a Malina Howard three at 2:16 left, would do the same. It was all a part of a final four minutes that saw seven lead changes between No. 10 Maryland (24-6) and Wake Forest (13-19) in the ACC tournament second round contest.
With 1:03 remaining and Maryland down one, Thomas iced two free throws, part of her 14 points in the second half. Then, with 32 seconds remaining and the Terps down one again, Chloe Pavlech took her very first shot of the second half – after she had scored 11 points in the first half – and knocked down her career-high fourth three pointer of the contest. Pavlech shot an impressive 4 for 5 from downtown and the team overall was 9 for 15.
But Pavlech’s three wasn’t the dagger. Demon Deacon senior Sandra Garcia hit two free throws with five seconds left to tie it at 79, send the game to overtime and set the stage for Thomas to make history.
Alyssa’s tenth assist came a minute and 38 seconds into the extra frame and it not only gave her the second triple-double of her career and third in Maryland women’s basketball history, but it was the first to ever occur in an ACC women’s basketball tournament contest. As if that wasn’t enough, Alyssa went on to break her career high in points later in the overtime. She finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
Thomas stole the show from Chelsea Douglas, who notched 31 points for Wake. 19 came in the first half alone.
The Terps had trailed from 18:34 remaining in the second to 9:58 remaining, when they tied it. They would also tie the game at 9:17 and 5:17 left in regulation, but did not regain the lead they had the entire first half until Rutan’s three with 3:20 remaining. However, despite the fact that it was a struggle, they took care of the 174th RPI-ranked Demon Deacons in overtime by outscoring them, 13-2, en route to their 92-81 victory.
Maryland now advances to the ACC tournament semifinals to play the winner of No. 3-seed North Carolina vs. No. 11-seed Boston College on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.