DULUTH, Ga. – Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph believes her team is good enough to compete with highly ranked opponents.
Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets keep coming up short.
"It's about them believing that they're a top 10 or a top 15 team," Joseph said. "I mean we're as good as Maryland. I mean we're as good as — if you look at these games we've lost against top 10 teams, we're right there with them."
Tianna Hawkins scored a career high 23 points, Alyssa Thomas added 23 points and No. 8 Maryland beat No. 22 Georgia Tech 64-56 on Monday night.
Sasha Goodlett, who finished with 15 points, was the only player to score in double figures for Georgia Tech (17-7, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference). The loss snapped the Yellow Jackets' four-game winning streak and dropped them to 0-6 this season against Top 25 teams.
Despite a difficult shooting night from the field, Thomas went 12 of 12 on free throws to help Maryland (20-3, 7-3) win its second straight. Hawkins went 11 of 13 from the field and grabbed nine boards.
The Terrapins outrebounded Georgia Tech 43-28, one better than their season average, which ranks fourth in the nation. Their 17 offensive rebounds took a toll on the Yellow Jackets' energy.
"I felt like we would play 25 great, hard seconds of defense and then give up an offensive rebound," Goodlett said. "That's something we're going to have to learn from and something that's unacceptable."
The teams had split the last four games, which had been decided by a margin of 3.3 points, in the series. The lead changed hands eight times, and the score was tied 12 times.
"We knew that was going to be a big key because when we played them the first time, they did a tremendous job of hitting the glass on us," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "Obviously, we rely on Alyssa and Tianna and our bigs to rebound, so get our guards to step up and rebound tonight was huge."
Thomas went 5 of 15 from the field. Starting guards Laurin Mincy and Anjale Barrett combined to go 2 of 14, and center Alicia DeVaughn went scoreless in 19 minutes, but the Terrapins finally started hitting some shots.
Lynetta Kizer was just 1 of 9 from the field when her 16-footer gave Maryland a 52-44 lead with 6:05 remaining.
"We couldn't get any up-and-down going," Joseph said of Georgia Tech's work in transition. "That's the kind of game we wanted to play. We only got six second-chance points and only six points from the free-throw line. That's a big part of our offensive game. We weren't able to get that tonight."
The Yellow Jackets followed by scoring 10 unanswered points and going up by two on Ty Marshall's layup.
Goodlett and Marshall each had five rebounds for Georgia Tech,
"If we want to get to the Sweet 16 and beyond, we've got to beat a team like that," Joseph said. "That's where we are in our program. We're at that turning point, and I hope these seniors will be the ones to lead us through that barrier and knock it down and help us take that next step and make history with this program."
Hawkins' jumper with 2:09 remaining gave Maryland a 56-54 lead, and the Terrapins never trailed again.
The Yellow Jackets, who failed to hold a 20-point lead early in the second half at Maryland last month and lost by three points, let the Terrapins end the first half on a 10-0 run, capped by Thomas' two free throws, for a 24-24 tie at intermission.
"We knew they were going to give us their best game because we stole one at our place," Thomas said. "Coming into it, we knew we had to come with a lot of energy at the start."