NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — There would be no comeback for Maryland this time and Alyssa Thomas' stellar career came to an end.
The Terrapins, who were back in the Final Four for the first time since winning the national championship in 2006, had an early exit — falling to Notre Dame 87-61 on Sunday night.
The Irish beat the Terrapins playing Maryland's brand of basketball, outrebounding them in record fashion.
"They wanted it more," said Thomas, a two-time first team All-American. "They beat us at our own game."
Notre Dame contained Thomas, who scored 14 points and finished her career as the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder.
She had waited four years to make the Final Four and her only trip was a short one. Coach Brenda Frese took her out with 1:33 left and gave her star a long hug as she headed to the bench for the final time.
"I thanked her," Frese said. "It's a dream come true and she left every single thing she could on the floor. It's too early to think about life after her."
The two teams met in January and Maryland was able to rally from a 22-point first half deficit before falling by four points to the Irish. This time they trailed by 17 points at the break. Notre Dame wouldn't let them rally.
"They remembered what we did to them last time," freshman guard Lexie Brown said. "They were not going to take us lightly in the second half. We were a second half team and they know that. They just played harder than us."
Despite the disappointing loss, Frese said it was still a special season for the program.
"We're one of the last four teams to be able to play," she said. "When this tournament started nobody counted on us to make it to the Final Four."
The Terps upset top-seeded Tennessee and then beat Louisville on its home court in front of 14,000 fans. They just couldn't pull off another upset, not with the play of Kayla McBride and her Irish's determination on the glass.
McBride scored 28 points to lead Notre Dame, which outrebounded Maryland 50-21, including a 19-4 on the offensive end. It was the widest rebounding margin ever in a Final Four game shattering the previous mark of 19 set by Louisiana Tech in 1989. Maryland broke the national semifinals record for fewest rebounds in a game of 25 set by Minnesota in 2004.