Late surge lifts No. 7 Maryland past Georgia Tech 67-54

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Desperate for some offense after letting a 20-point lead dwindle to 1, Maryland turned to Kaila Charles.

The sharp-shooting junior turned out to be a can’t-miss solution.

Charles scored 23 points and sparked a fourth-quarter surge that carried Maryland past Georgia Tech 67-54 Thursday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Up 38-18 at halftime, the Terrapins (7-0) battled through a miserable third quarter that enabled the Yellow Jackets to close to 47-46 with 9 minutes left. Charles then rattled off 11 straight points to blunt the comeback.

“I was kind of in the zone,” Charles said. “I was being more aggressive, and my teammates were finding me and encouraging me to keep attacking the basket.”

Charles began her personal 11-0 run with a three-point play and followed by a jump shot. The 6-foot-1 guard then made two free throws, a runner in the lane and two more foul shots for a 58-46 lead with 5:53 remaining.

“The play call, we continued to run it until they could stop it. They couldn’t stop it,” coach Brenda Frese said. “We weren’t going to go away from it.”

Freshman Taylor Mikesell scored 20 for the Terps and Stephanie Jones added 11.

Coming off a narrow win over Georgia in Puerto Rico, Maryland never trailed in the first meeting between the schools since 2014. The Terrapins lead the series 50-18 and have won seven straight.

“I’m proud of our poise and our composure, especially when they cut the lead to one,” Frese said.

Kierra Fletcher scored 14 for the Yellow Jackets (5-2) and Elizabeth Balogun had 13.

Maryland led 44-25 in the third quarter before the Yellow Jackets closed the period with a 19-3 run to get back into it.

Georgia Tech scored 26 points in the quarter after scoring only 18 in the entire first half. The Terrapins, conversely, went 3 for 13 in the period and put up just nine points with eight turnovers.

“Our press made the difference, turning them over and getting them to take shots they didn’t want to take,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said.

Led by Charles, Maryland returned to form over the final nine minutes.

Early on, the game had the makings of a rout. Georgia Tech missed nine of its first 10 shots and was outrebounded 15-6 in falling behind 18-6 after the first quarter.

A 3-pointer by Mikesell and a jumper by Charles upped the margin to 17 points, and Joseph finally called a timeout after an uncontested layup by Jones made it 25-8.

HEAVILY COVERED

Georgia Tech junior Francesca Pan, who came in averaging 16.7 points per game, went 1 for 7 from the floor in the first half and finished with nine points.

“They were all over her. She couldn’t get a look at the basket,” Joseph said. “They did a tremendous job defensively on her. That’s why we have to have other players step up.”

BIG PICTURE

Georgia Tech: If the Yellow Jackets play as they did in the third quarter, they could make some noise in the ACC.

“We’ve got to be able to put two halves together,” Joseph said. “We’re going to learn from our mistakes early in the season and hopefully turn those things around, be a team that’s going to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.”

Maryland: The Terrapins looked great in the first half, and they weathered a strong comeback. That bodes well for the future, although Frese might be concerned over that third-quarter collapse.

UP NEXT

Georgia Tech hosts Georgia State on Sunday.

Maryland hosts Maryland-Baltimore County on Sunday.