Tianna Hawkins added 14 points and Rutan finished with 12 on four 3-pointers for Maryland.
The defending ACC tournament champions led by 16 in the final minute of the first half and were up 50-43 with less than 10 minutes remaining on Hawkins’ jumper.
The Tar Heels countered that with their Coleman-led 16-5 burst that gave them their first lead since the opening 5 minutes.
Coleman hit three big shots during the run, including a tying 3-pointer, a pretty baseline drive that put North Carolina up 54-53 and a driving layup that pushed the lead to 59-55 with under 4 minutes left.
“She caught fire on that first 3 and really gained confidence from there,” Frese said. “When you have a bench like Carolina does, (you can) figure out which player has the hot hand. … Obviously, she did for them today.”
“Coach just told me to be a leader,” Coleman said. “I hit that first 3 and got in a rhythm and didn’t stop from there.”
These two programs have combined for 19 tournament titles — 10 for Maryland, nine for North Carolina — and they finished the regular season so closely tied for second place in the league standings that the only way to separate them was by a coin flip.
Both were 14-4 in league play, and they split the series with each team winning at home, losing to Duke twice and Florida State once. North Carolina edged the Terps by three points in Chapel Hill, while Maryland rolled the Tar Heels by 26 on its home floor.
For a while it looked like a repeat of that beatdown in College Park. Maryland used a Thomas-led 22-7 run late in the half and went up 38-22 with 6.4 seconds left in the half.
The Tar Heels tightened things right back up with a 20-6 run, with McDaniel’s steal and layup with just under 13 minutes left pulling them to 44-42 and it stayed tight until North Carolina pulled away down the stretch.
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