COLLEGE PARK, Md. – For 20 agonizing minutes, Alyssa Thomas had to rely on teammates to keep Maryland from falling hopelessly behind Texas.
In the second half, Thomas returned the favor.
Thomas scored all 16 of her points after halftime, and the Terrapins squeezed out a 69-64 victory Tuesday to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA women’s tournament for the third consecutive year.
The fourth-seeded Terrapins (26-6) next face Tennessee, the No. 1 seed in the Louisville Regional. Maryland is 23-8 in the tournament under coach Brenda Frese and has reached the round of 16 in six of her 12 seasons on the job.
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“I’m really happy for our seniors to be able to go out with a win on their home court,” Frese said. “But like I told them in the locker room, we’re not finished.
“I’m excited to be able to go, and we’re going to make a run for the roses.”
In a game that featured 15 lead changes and was tied seven times, fifth-seeded Texas (22-12) rallied from an 11-point deficit to cut Maryland’s lead to 65-64 with 43 seconds left.
After Longhorns senior Chassidy Fussell missed a three-point try, Laurin Mincy made two free throws for a three-point lead.
Nekia Jones then bounced a three-point attempt off the rim for Texas, and Thomas clinched the victory by sinking two free throws with eight seconds to go.
“We needed a stop and I was able to secure the rebound,” Thomas said. “It was just a moment of relief to know we had this one in the bag.”
Longhorns coach Karen Aston won’t soon forget those late misses by Fussell and Jones.
“I would want those same players to take those same shots,” Aston said. “In particular, the shot Chas got out of the timeout, it was exactly what we were looking for. The shot that ’Kia got was a great shot.”
Other Louisville Regional games
Louisville 83, Iowa 53
Shoni Schimmel had 26 points, seven assists and five steals to help the Cardinals beat the Hawkeyes in Iowa City and earn their fifth trip to the Sweet 16 under coach Jeff Walz.
Antonita Slaughter added 17 points for Louisville, which advanced to Sunday’s regional semifinal at home.
LSU 76, West Virginia 67
Danielle Ballard collected 22 points and 15 rebounds, and the seventh-seeded Tigers overcame a late seven-point deficit, as well as foul trouble, to beat the second-seeded Mountaineers in Baton Rouge, La.
Asya Bussie scored 21 points for West Virginia.
Connecticut 91, Saint Joseph’s 52
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had the third triple-double in UConn history as the Huskies routed the Hawks in Storrs, Conn., to extend their winning streak to 42.
Mosqueda-Lewis had 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Breanna Stewart added 21 points and 11 rebounds for top-ranked UConn, the defending NCAA champion.
Texas A&M 85, James Madison 69
Courtney Williams scored 23 points and Karla Gilbert added 20 points with 15 rebounds to help the Aggies defeat the Dukes in College Station, Texas.
Kirby Burkholder led James Madison with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
North Carolina 62, Michigan St. 53
Freshman Diamond DeShields had 24 points and a season-high 12 rebounds to lead the fourth-seeded Tar Heels past the fifth-seeded Spartans in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Penn St. 83, Florida 61
Maggie Lucas and Dara Taylor each scored 22 points to send the third-seeded Lions into the Sweet 16 with a victory over the 11th-seeded Gators in State College, Pa.
Kayla Lewis led Florida with 20 points and nine rebounds.