Higgs scores 26 points, leads Yellow Jackets over Terrapins

ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech finally found a way to close out a game.

Stephanie Higgs scored 26 points and Janie Mitchell added 17 in helping the Yellow Jackets to a 77-72 victory over No. 4 Maryland on Thursday night.

"We just wanted to finish. We've had teams (beaten) after 35 minutes a couple of times this season and didn't do it. This is just a big win," Higgs said.

Higgs hit eight of 10 free throws in the final 6 minutes to keep Maryland at bay in a game that had 76 foul shots and became a free-throw shooting contest at the end.

"I love it," Higgs said. "I told my teammates 'I've got it. Don't worry."

Jacqua Williams had 16 points for the Yellow Jackets (14-8, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had lost four straight to Maryland, last winning 58-57 on Feb. 15, 2004.

"Obviously, we're very excited," Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. "I thought our defense was a little surprise, throwing a lot of different looks at them."

Marissa Coleman led Maryland (21-3, 5-3) with 17 points. Crystal Langhorne and Kristi Toliver each had 13, and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood added 12 for the defending national champs, who lost 84-71 to No. 2 North Carolina on Sunday.

"I was really pleased with our effort on defense and we stepped up and made shots," Joseph said. "We're a different team when we make shots."

The Yellow Jackets hit 21 of 51 shots (45 percent) and were 4-of-9 on 3's.

"This is life on the road in the ACC. Obviously, all the credit goes to Georgia Tech. They did a fantastic job and had a great game plan," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "On our end, we're hurting and need to find a way to regroup."

The Yellow Jackets' last victory against a team ranked as high as Maryland also came against the Terrapins, who were fourth-ranked when Georgia beat them 68-67 in the ACC tournament on March 7, 1992.

Maryland's only lead came at the start of the game on a free throw by Laura Harper. Tech led 40-27 at the half.

The Yellow Jackets biggest lead of the second half was 58-44 with 9:31 left.

The Terrapins rallied to get to 60-55 on a basket by Coleman with 6:05 remaining, but never got closer.

Mitchell led the Yellow Jackets with 11 points in the first half and Higgs added 10. Langhorne scored eight points for Maryland.

Maryland was hurt by 14 turnovers in the opening half, leading to 17 points for the Yellow Jackets and finished with 24 turnovers. Tech also outrebounded the Terps 20-13 in the first half.

"We have to find a way to take care of the basketball," Frese said. "We've had back-to-back games with more than 20 turnovers. We've got to handle the pressure."