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Thomas' near triple-double cancels out Terps' struggles in win over Georgia Tech

Five players played 30-plus minutes for injury-plagued Maryland, and their core players Alyssa Thomas, Tianna Hawkins and Alicia DeVaughn all came through with double-doubles to lead the Terps past Georgia Tech.

Alyssa Thomas is averaging 22.2 points per game in six career meetings with Georgia Tech.
Alyssa Thomas is averaging 22.2 points per game in six career meetings with Georgia Tech.

Alyssa Thomas put on another show against Georgia Tech to help No. 10 Maryland (15-3, 6-1 ACC) evade the Yellow Jackets (8-10, 1-6 ACC) once again in a 66-57 victory Sunday afternoon at the McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, Ga.

With 28 points, Thomas recorded her fourth straight 20-plus point game against Georgia Tech, while adding 10 rebounds for a double-double and eight assists for a near triple-double.

With two more assists she would have had her second triple double of the year and only the third in Maryland women's basketball history with Marissa Coleman recording the other. It also would have been an even more impressive triple-double than her one against George Mason back in December, considering in that one she had 12 boards, 11 assists and just 11 points.

With Tierney Pfirman out with a dislocated knee, the Terps were down to a seven player rotation instead of an eight player one, with really only six that see significant playing time. Sequoia Austin entered Sunday's contest averaging 10.2 minutes a game.

To answer this incredible challenge that was thrown at her team, Brenda Frese did not increase the playing time of the bottom two players in her rotation, Malina Howard and Austin. Austin played just nine minutes and the freshman Howard played just 13, well below her average coming in of 23.9. Instead, Frese turned to her starters, which on Sunday consisted of Chloe Pavlech, Thomas, Tianna Hawkins, Alicia DeVaughn and, replacing Pfirman, Katie Rutan.

Maryland was essentially a five player team against the Yellow Jackets, with DeVaughn playing 33 minutes, Hawkins playing 34, Pavlech playing 35, Rutan playing 37 and Thomas playing all 40. And Thomas took on that responsibility and demonstrated that she can carry the Terps even when they're not having their best day.

Georgia Tech's full court pressure gave Maryland problems throughout the first half. The Yellow Jackets, who have struggled thus far in ACC play, gave their home crowd a pleasant surprise by leading for much of that opening period, including by six with 4:25 to go until halftime.

From there, Maryland went on a 9-0 run to close the half and opened the second with a 15-2 run to build up a 16-point lead, their largest of the afternoon.

But the eight-game streak of single-digit margins between the Terps and Yellow Jackets would not be broken because Georgia Tech fought back and had a chance to win in the end. They trailed by just five with 2:51 remaining

As far as a reasons why this game didn't go as smoothly for Maryland as they would have liked against a team with a pretty bad ACC record, you don't have to look much further than turnovers. The Terps doubled Georgia Tech's turnover total with 24, and were outscored in points off turnovers, 18-4.

Thomas was responsible for a game-high eight turnovers. She leads the Terps on the season with 4.2 a game, which is understandable since the ball is always in her hands. Without Thomas taking risks in transition or otherwise, Maryland would lose a large chunk of their scoring.

So without question, Alyssa was still the hero Sunday. Her 28 points marks a new season-high, breaking the one she just set a week ago at Virginia Tech. If she had sunk a couple more free throws, she would have had a new career high as well.

Up next for Georgia Tech, they will face No. 22/24 Florida State (15-3, 5-2 ACC) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25. Meanwhile, Maryland will get a shot at revenge when they host No. 11/19 North Carolina (18-1, 6-0 ACC) on Thursday, Jan. 24.