The North Carolina women’s basketball team was poised to collect its third straight comeback victory against an ACC opponent.
But Maryland standout Alyssa Thomas’ reverse layup at the buzzer swung the momentum toward No. 5 Maryland’s corner, carrying it to a 78-72 overtime victory Sunday at Carmichael Arena.
The Tar Heels (12-3, 2-1 ACC) had a 72-69 lead with two minutes remaining in overtime before Maryland (16-0, 3-0) rode a 9-0 run to close out the game.
Fouls by UNC diminished Maryland’s window to score, but 3.7 seconds would still prove too much time.
Thomas drove toward the basket and improvised at the last second, reversing her layup and the outcome of the match, in the blink of an eye.
“They had all the confidence in me, so I knew I had to make that shot,” Thomas said. “I saw that they gave me the left side and then
they cut it off when I went to take the layup, so I did a reverse.”
Coach Sylvia Hatchell lamented after the game that she did not act on her impulse to substitute 6-foot-6 Waltiea Rolle into the game, whom Hatchell believed would have blocked Thomas’ shot.
Instead, Thomas’ buzzer beater forced the Tar Heels to play just long enough to expose their flaws.
The result would not have been nearly as close, though, if not for the Tar Heels’ intensity out of the locker room at halftime when the team turned a 36-30 deficit into a 40-38 lead.
After trailing by as much as nine points in the first half, the 10-2 run put UNC in perfect position for its second upset of a ranked ACC opponent in three games.
Chay Shegog led UNC scorers with 20 points but credited her teammates for hitting open cutters right before halftime to give the team some momentum.
Thomas, who entered the game ranked second in the ACC in scoring behind Shegog, led all scorers with 24 points and added eight rebounds.
Brittany Rountree shot 3-for-3 from the field against Maryland, an oddly low number of shots for the freshman, who is second on the team in scoring with 11.1 points per game.
Hatchell attributed that anomaly, along with several other Tar Heel miscues, to the return of key upperclassmen Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Rolle to the floor after extended bouts of missed playing time.
Though the increased cast of Tar Heels available may have limited them Sunday, Hatchell was excited about the potential her players have once they all get comfortable with one another.
“We’ve got kids out there that haven’t really played with us much,” Hatchell said. “We’re a little out of sync because of our timing. If we can ever get them all out there for a week or two … that would really make us a much better team.”
Contact the Sports Editor
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.