CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — As tough as Alyssa Thomas has been to stop through the years, the rest of the ACC might not be too sad to see her leave.
She gave No. 8 Maryland a strong start to its farewell tour through the ACC on Sunday, finishing with 21 points and 14 rebounds in a 79-70 win over No. 10 North Carolina in the league opener.
"For our seniors, it's our last year in general but this being (Maryland's) last year in the ACC, we want to go out with a bang," Thomas said.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 16 points while Katie Rutan had 14 points and four 3-pointers.
Thomas — a senior and two-time ACC player of the year — polished off her 13th consecutive double-double to help the Terps (13-1, 1-0 ACC) win their 11th straight.
"I thought, obviously, A.T. was A.T," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said of Thomas.
Big Ten-bound Maryland led for all but about 90 seconds of this one but let much of an 18-point lead slip away before holding on to win its toughest test since a 72-55 loss to No. 1 Connecticut two months ago.
Stephanie Mavunga scored 15 points, Latifah Coleman had 13 and Diamond DeShields finished with 12 for the Tar Heels (12-3, 0-1).
With Hall of Fame coach Sylvia Hatchell watching from a sideline television platform for the second straight game, UNC had its seven-game win streak snapped.
Hatchell, who has been out all year while she receives treatment for leukemia, addressed the crowd at halftime and urged those in attendance to join the national donor registry.
DeShields, the team's leading scorer who missed the James Madison win three days earlier with a left hand injury, was 3 of 13 from the field while playing with a wrap on her hand.
"Every player gets nicked up. Something you have to play through," DeShields said. "I was a little timid at first but I started to let it go. There's nothing to be worried about. ... It'll be fine."
North Carolina cut its deficit to six with 7 minutes left on Mavunga's layup that made it 61-55.
Thomas followed with second-chance buckets on consecutive trips downcourt and the Tar Heels — who went without a field goal for 3 crucial minutes down the stretch — didn't get closer than seven in the final 5 minutes.
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