COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- After Marissa Coleman provided the spark for Maryland (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) in the first half, Kristi Toliver took over during the final 20 minutes.
The two were too much for North Carolina (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 2 AP), now mired in its worst losing streak in seven years after falling 77-71 Sunday night.
Coleman scored 18 points before intermission, and Toliver tallied 18 in the second half. Coleman finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Toliver had 23 points and eight assists.
"Just a special win, to be led by our two seniors," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "When they click like that, our team just follows their lead. K.T. didn't shoot well in the first half, then came out and did a tremendous job for us."
Toliver contributed 11 points to a 13-0 run that put the Terrapins up by 12 with 14:24 left, and Maryland (16-3, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) held on.
"Whoever has the hot hand, we're finding them," Coleman said. "In the first half, it was me. In the second half, we were finding Kristi in her spots."
Demauria Liles chipped in with 12 points and 15 rebounds to help the Terrapins extend their home winning streak to 29.
Jessica Breland had 18 points and 12 rebounds for North Carolina (17-3, 3-2), which hadn't lost three in a row since Jan. 17-24, 2002. The Tar Heels were coming off a 30-point defeat against Connecticut and a 66-62 setback against Georgia Tech.
"We've had a tough week," coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "I just told the girls, 'No other team in the country has accepted the challenge of playing a schedule like this.' Yeah, we haven't been as successful as we want to be, but I guess what doesn't kill you makes you better."
Adding injury to insult, Breland sprained her left ankle.
North Carolina wore pink uniforms and pink warmup suits, and Maryland donned pink warmup shirts in a tribute to North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, who died Saturday following a lengthy fight against breast cancer. There was also a moment of silence before the game to honor Yow, who won 737 games in 38 years.
Maryland trailed 42-41 before Toliver hit a jumper in the lane and drilled two straight 3-pointers. Liles then made two free throws, and Toliver followed with another jumper from beyond the arc to make it 54-42.
"Toliver's a great player," North Carolina's Italee Lucas said. "When she gets hot, it's tough to stop her."
The Tar Heels twice cut the deficit to 4, but could get no closer. It was 72-65 when North Carolina's Rashanda McCants fouled out with 4:33 remaining, followed by a technical foul call against the Tar Heels bench.
"It takes a lot for me to get a technical, but I felt like it was something I had to do," Hatchell said.
The sequence ended with Maryland up by 10.
Referring to the rough play and Maryland's 28-9 advantage in free throws attempted, Hatchell said, "I've been coaching for 34 years and I don't know if I've ever been a game like tonight."
An a back-and-forth first half ended tied at 34.
After Laura Broomfield made two free throws on North Carolina's opening possession, the Tar Heels missed five shots and had three turnovers on their next eight trips and fell behind 14-2. Coleman had 8 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, during the opening surge.
It was 19-7 before North Carolina got serious on the defensive end, holding Maryland scoreless for more than 6 minutes and scoring 14 straight points to regain the lead.