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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.

“I’m really proud of the way they came out night after night and stepped up on the defensive end,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “The way we play defensively, it’s really hard to play consecutive games — back to back to back — and to do it at a very high level is almost impossible. And I thought that, for three days consecutively, my team stepped up and played defensively as well as any team I’ve ever seen three nights in a row, playing 94 feet for 40 minutes.”

Early on, Thomas singlehandedly tried to will Maryland to the title, scoring 13 of her team’s first 17 points. Then the Yellow Jackets hit 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.