RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Alyssa Thomas scored 22 of her 24 points in the second half and added a career-high 17 rebounds, and No. 6 Maryland beat North Carolina State 65-50 on Sunday.
Thomas finished two points shy of her scoring high to help the Terrapins (25-4, 12-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) win their fourth straight. They clinched the No. 3 seed in the league tournament that starts Thursday in Greensboro.
Laurin Mincy added 12 points for Maryland. The Terps never trailed, overcame 18 turnovers and used a late 17-5 run to pull away and claim their seventh win in eight tries against the Wolfpack (16-14, 5-11).
The Terrapins, the league’s best rebounding team, built a 55-36 advantage on the boards.
Thomas — who averages 16.7 points — was the only Maryland player to score during a 10 1/2-minute stretch of the second half, reeling off 16 consecutive points for her team.
N.C. State made it a three-point game three times in the second half, the last when Marissa Kastanek’s drive across the lane pulled the Wolfpack within 46-43 with just under 10 minutes left.
But while N.C. State managed just two field goals the rest of the way, Thomas carried the Terrapins.
She knocked down a jumper through contact from Lakeesa Daniel with 8:57 left to spark a run of eight straight points during the decisive spurt. Kim Rodgers’ 3 from the corner with 7 1/2 minutes to play stretched it back out to double figures at 54-43, and Mincy’s free throw with 3:15 left made it 63-48.
No N.C. State player reached double figures, with leading scorer Kastanek — who averages 13 points — finishing with nine on 4-of-14 shooting. Senior Bonae Holston, who averages 12.4 points, had six on 3-of-14 shooting in her final game at Reynolds Coliseum.
The Wolfpack claimed the No. 9 seed in the league tournament.
This one opened up with some wild swings, with the Terrapins racing out to a 15-1 lead against a senior-day starting lineup that included three Wolfpack players who don’t usually start.
Once most of the regulars checked in, N.C. State tightened things back up with a 17-3 run capped by Kastanek’s 3-pointer that pulled the Wolfpack within 21-20 with 6:50 before the break.
N.C. State didn’t hit another basket until Erica Donovan’s baseline drive with 42 seconds left capped the Wolfpack’s second 5-minute field goal drought of the half.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)