COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Down by 20 points in the second half, No. 5 Maryland turned to Alyssa Thomas to pull the team out of a seemingly insurmountable hole.
The unflappable sophomore forward came through with a brilliant performance that helped the unbeaten Terrapins stay that way.
Thomas scored 18 of her 24 points over the final 18 minutes, including a three-point play with 17 seconds left that carried the Terrapins past Georgia Tech 77-74 Friday night.
"Are you kidding me? Did you see what we saw?" coach Brenda Frese said. "To have the heart and determination and grit to be able to come back like they did is what makes this team so special."
The Terrapins (15-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed 56-36 shortly after halftime and 72-64 with 4:23 remaining before coming back. After Thomas gave Maryland a 76-74 lead by scoring in the lane and adding a free throw, Georgia Tech's Metra Walthour lost the ball driving to the basket and Laurin Mincy made a clinching foul shot for the Terps.
Thomas went 1 for 3 from the floor in the first half and 6 for 11 after halftime. She also made all six of her free throws in the final 20 minutes.
"I think the first half, I was a little too excited. I let their press got the best of me," Thomas said.
And after that?
"The difference was Alyssa Thomas," Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. "We didn't have an answer for her."
Mincy scored 17 points and Alicia DeVaughn contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins.
Georgia Tech (11-4, 1-1) came in with a six-game winning streak. Sasha Goodlett had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets and Tyaunna Marshall scored 16.
All of Georgia Tech's defeats this season have come against teams currently ranked in the Top 25.
"I felt like we came out here with a good game plan," Joseph said. "We got on our toes and we attacked early and we were able to control the boards in the first half and stop transition baskets, the two things that Maryland does. We were able to take those away in the first half."
The second half, not so much.
"We got more aggressive, attacked more and were more active on the glass," Frese said.
After Maryland scored the opening basket of the second half, Marshall made a driving layup to begin an 11-0 run that gave Georgia Tech a 20-point lead with 17:39 left.
"When we were down 20, this team could have folded," Frese said.
That's when the Terrapins began their comeback, and it didn't take long. Beginning with a three-point play and a layup, Thomas scored 11 points in a 17-1 run that cut the deficit to 57-53 with 12:28 to play.
Maryland's next eight points came at the foul line, including two by Thomas that made it 63-61.
After the Yellow Jackets boosted the margin to eight points, a layup by DeVaughn sparked a 9-2 spree that cut the gap to 74-73. Thomas' three-point play gave Maryland its first lead since 27-25.
Georgia Tech scored 26 points in the paint and outrebounded Maryland 26-18 in the first half to take a 45-34 lead at the break.
Maryland led 20-14 before Marshall scored four points in a 9-2 spree. Minutes later, five different players scored in a 16-point blitz that put the Yellow Jackets up 41-27.
At that point, Georgia Tech held a 25-14 advantage on the boards against the team with the leading rebounding differential in the country.