SPOKANE, Wash. -- Maryland will take a 28-game winning streak to Tampa, Florida, where the Terps will take on Connecticut in the national semifinals.
The Terrapins, an elite team that spent much of the season flying under the radar, earned back-to-back trips to the Final Four after a 58-48 win over Tennessee on Monday night in the Spokane Regional final.
Maryland, which made it a complete sweep of No. 1 seeds in the national semifinals for the third time in NCAA tournament history, heads to consecutive Final Fours for the first time in school history. It's the program's fifth trip overall, and third under coach Brenda Frese. The Terrapins, in their first season in the Big Ten, are also the conference's first team to reach the Final Four since Michigan State in 2005.
It was a nip-and-tuck game until Maryland pulled away with a 17-4 run in the final 8:41.
Maryland turned up its defensive pressure and held Tennessee to two field goals in its last 17 attempts for the game.
Turning point: Tennessee went up 44-41 with 8:41 to go on a drive by senior Ariel Massengale, but Maryland countered in a big way.
From there, the Terrapins went on a tide-turning 10-2 run that included three big baskets from sophomore Lexie Brown -- a pair of 3-pointers and then a drive along the baseline with 1:12 to go that put Maryland up 51-46.
Tennessee had to foul in an attempt to play catch-up the rest of the way and couldn't put together enough offense down the stretch to counter.
Key stat: After shooting 0-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half, Maryland made 5 of 8 3-point attempts in the second half to open up the offense and put pressure on Tennessee's hardworking defense.
Key player: Brown. The guard, who didn't hit a field goal for the Terps in the regional semifinal win over Duke, scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half to push Maryland into the Final Four.
How it was won: Perimeter shooting. As their guards struggled in the first half, the Terps relied on paint play -- particularly from sophomore center Brionna Jones (14 points, nine rebounds) -- to keep afloat in the game.
But when Brown and fellow sophomore Shatori Walker-Kimbrough started hitting in the second half, the tone of the game changed. Suddenly, Maryland wasn't one-dimensional anymore and Tennessee struggled to keep up on the defensive end, while missing big scoring opportunities on the other end.
What's next: The Terrapins move on to face two-time defending national champion Connecticut in the national semifinals Sunday in Tampa. Maryland is 0-3 all-time against the Huskies. Connecticut eliminated Maryland from the regional final in the 2013 season in Bridgeport, Connecticut, 70-56.