Alyssa Thomas scored a career-high 29 points and No. 6 Maryland beat No. 15 Georgia Tech 68-65 on Sunday to win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship.
Lynetta Kizer had 11 points and Kim Rodgers added 10 to help the third-seeded Terrapins (28-4) claim their 10th ACC tournament title and second in four years.
Tyaunna Marshall scored 18 of her 25 points in the second half and Sasha Goodlett added 20 points for the fourth-seeded Yellow Jackets (24-8), who were denied their first league tournament title.
They had one last chance to force overtime after Anjale Barrett's missed free throw with 9.4 seconds remaining kept it a three-point game.
Georgia Tech called time with 5.6 seconds left and got the ball to Marshall, whose contested 22-footer failed to hit the rim as the buzzer sounded.
That gave the league's automatic NCAA berth to Maryland, which became the lowest seeded team to win the tournament since Clemson did it as a No. 4 seed in 1999.
Thomas, just the second sophomore in ACC history to earn its player of the year award, was named MVP of the tournament after scoring at least 18 points in each of her three games.
The Yellow Jackets gave themselves plenty of chances down the stretch of this one, after erasing a seven-point deficit with an 11-2 run. They led 63-61 on Marshall's free throw with 2:05 left, but Kizer tied it on the Terps' next trip downcourt by hitting a layup in the post and Barrett added the go-ahead layup with just more than a minute remaining.
Then came the sequence that may haunt Georgia Tech. Marshall missed a jumper in the lane, Goodlett came up empty on a layup and Chelsea Riggins had a layup blocked by Thomas with about 30 seconds left.
After Thomas hit two free throws with 22.7 seconds left, Marshall added two foul shots with 12.3 seconds remaining to pull the Yellow Jackets to 67-65. Barrett hit her first free throw, but missed the second to give Georgia Tech one final shot.
Maryland won its seventh straight and became the first team to beat Georgia Tech three times in a season since 2003-04.
The title game had an unfamiliar feel because for the first time since 1993 — when Virginia beat Maryland — none of the four North Carolina-based schools reached the championship game. The top two seeds, No. 5 Duke and No. 7 Miami, were knocked out in consecutive quarterfinals, and that left the Terrapins as the clear favorite before they had even played their opener.
They took advantage, rolling past Virginia in the quarterfinals before dispatching Wake Forest in the semis to make it to their 13th championship game. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, took care of two local teams on its way to its second title-game appearance, edging North Carolina before routing N.C. State.
Early on, Thomas single-handedly tried to will Maryland to the title, scoring 13 of her team's first 17 points. Then the Yellow Jackets got hot, hitting nine of 10 shots during a 5½-minute stretch that spanned the halves — including Marshall's 3 at the halftime buzzer that pulled them within 29-27.