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Maryland Women Win ACC Tournament

By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer

GREENSBORO, N.C., March 8—The third-seeded Duke women had one final chance to match top-seeded Maryland in the finals of the ACC Tournament on Sunday afternoon, and their senior sharpshooter launched a long three-pointer from the left side. But Abby Waner's shot was off, and as Maryland freshman Lynetta Kizer cradled the rebound in her hands, the Terrapins started to celebrate a 92-89 overtime victory.

Maryland's two senior stars—Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver—who had made no secret of their desire to win the program's first ACC tournament championship since 1989 hugged each other tightly. Seconds later, when the game was officially over, balloons and streamers dropped onto the Greensboro Coliseum court.

Coleman scored 28 points and Toliver added 24. Both players were named to the all-tournament team, and Coleman was the most valuable player.

Duke rallied from six points down over the final 80 seconds of regulation and sent the game into overtime on senior Chante Black's one-handed putback with less than three seconds on the clock.

Coleman and Toliver scored Maryland's first nine points of the extra period as the Terrapins took a 90-87 lead. With less than 30 seconds remaining, junior Dee Liles stole a pass on the perimeter, and instead of holding the ball and letting time run off, she charged down the floor for a lay-up—which rimmed out. The Blue Devils quickly went the other way, and Abby Waner converted a wide-open lay-up with 20.9 seconds to go.

Maryland broke Duke's pressure by throwing the ball over the top to redshirt freshman Kim Rodgers (12 points), and she went for a lay-up, was fouled and made both free throws with 12.9 seconds remaining to seal the win.

The Terrapins might have had the two most exciting wins in the tournament—their come-from-behind victory over Wake Forest in the quarterfinals and their back-and-forth 95-84 win over North Carolina in the semifinals—but the Blue Devils authored the two most impressive wins.

Duke blew out 24th-ranked Virginia (76-53) and 12th-ranked Florida State (75-57) on consecutive nights, holding each opponent to its lowest point total of the season. The Blue Devils also shut down two of the league's top scorers, holding Virginia's Lyndra Littles and Monica Wright to a combined 21 points (half of their usual output) on 7 of 29 shooting (24.1 percent).

But slowing down the Terrapins, one of the best offensive teams in the country, and their pair of prolific seniors was going to be a bigger challenge. In the team's most recent meeting, a 77-59 Maryland win on Feb. 22, Toliver and Coleman combined to score 58 points, including the Terrapins' first 27 points of the second half.

Maryland scored the last six points of the first half to take a 40-36 lead into the break; redshirt freshman Anjale Barrett made a three-pointer from the left side, and then junior forward Dee Liles leapt high to fight for an offensive rebound and knocked it to teammate Kim Rodgers, who converted a lay-up, was fouled, and made the free throw.

Duke regained the lead, 46-44, early in the second half following a three-pointer from senior Abby Waner. But over the next six minutes, Maryland outscored the Blue Devils by a 21-9 margin and opened up its biggest lead of the game.

Sophomore guard Marah Strickland, who had missed 14 of the 15 shots she had taken in the tournament, converted three three-pointers in one two-minute span during that stretch to spark the Terrapins. Her lay-up—which came after Liles battled with the taller Black to secure an offensive rebound—gave the Terrapins a 65-55 lead with 9 minutes 53 seconds to play and caused Duke to call a timeout. Coleman waved her arms to the crowd and screamed, "Let's go!"

But the Blue Devils battled back behind their physical defense and rebounding. They forced Toliver into a bad pass, and Black, the ACC defensive player of the year, blocked a shot. After Black made two free throws following an offensive rebound, Duke was within four, 65-61, with 8:23 remaining.

That's when the game turned a bit chippy; the Maryland fans howled when Duke's Bridgette Mitchell appeared to put a forearm in Coleman's chest. Mere moments later, Mitchell and Coleman got tangled up while going for the ball, and Coleman fell hard to the ground. When Coleman went back to the defensive end, she stomped her foot on the floor, pumped her fist, and again screamed, "Let's go!"

But that seemed to galvanize the Terrapins; they went on a 7-1 run—in which Toliver hit a long three-pointer with Mitchell running out at her—to once again push the lead back to 10, 72-62, with 6:03 to go.

Duke again rallied, behind senior Carrem Gay and sophomore Jasmine Thomas (Oakton). Gay scored four straight points, and then stole a pass and fed Thomas for a lay-up.

The final four and a half minutes of the game went back and forth, with the Terrapins trying to hold off Duke's challenges. Coleman scored on a putback of her own miss with 2:10 left to put Maryland up, 81-75, but the Blue Devils scored the final six points of regulation. Thomas scored on a pull-up; Toliver's shot was blocked and Coleman missed a three-pointer. Thomas converted two free throws with 40.8 seconds on the clock, but Maryland didn't get a good look at the basket; Barrett had to toss up a three-pointer to beat the shot clock.

With less than 10 seconds to go, Thomas charged down the court and threw up an errant shot, but Black used one hand to push the ball off the glass and through the hoop with less than three seconds remaining to force overtime.

By Camille Powell  |  March 8, 2009; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Women's basketball  
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Next: Terps Draw No. 7 Seed, N.C. State


I was at Maryland in '89 and am loving this win. Given the Tobacco-road-centric nature of ACC tournaments this win counts for a LOT. Coming over both UNC and Duke is ideal...

Posted by: jake177 | March 8, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

testudo rules......congrats Maryland

Posted by: charlietuna666 | March 8, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

coleman played like a stud,she'll be a top five pick in the wnba.she has heart and compassion something that's liking in the wizards.

Posted by: ronaldtennillegeorgia1 | March 8, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

My girls are going all the way. I can't wait till we have another NCAA victory rally!

Posted by: robinfickerofrobinrealty | March 8, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

What an excellent team and bunch of disciplined, talented athletes!! Do feel that Terps lost their poise a few times. Failed to block out Duke's Black and she made the tying rebound and shot to tie it as time expired in regulation. Also, taking that layup at end of game that rimmed out. Hmm, little mental errors almost cost them this game. Fabulous effort, incredible team...

Posted by: Towards_Light | March 8, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Coleman was absolutely monstrous all tournament long. Keep Kizer out of foul trouble and you can book airfare for St. Louis.

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | March 8, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

So I guess the women had to WIN IN ORDER TO BE FRONT page news, BEHIND the men yet again.

GO TERPS, NCAA, UCONN vs. MD WOMEN's NCAA championship match up.

Post Sports, you guys are shameful.

Posted by: smtpgirl08 | March 8, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

smtpgirl08, the Post screwed over Catholic's men repeatedly the year they won the D-III title.

Newspapers are going out of business, anyway.

Posted by: bs2004 | March 8, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I was in the band that travelled with the team when they won the title in Fayetteville in '89, and to the Final Four in Takoma. This was just as sweet, knocking off both UNC and Duke. Marissa earned her MVP award. Congrats, Terps; now on to the big prize...

Posted by: ecglotfelty | March 8, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

It was a gutsy series of games the Lady Terps won. They fought like real champions. They seem well managed. Am I the only one that had the impression the refs favored the Blue Devils? They were smacking terps to the floor for 45 minutes with few calls. Perhaps the game wasn't quite as close as the final score indicated. Well, on to the the NCAA tournament and good luck Terps!

Posted by: AncientTerp | March 8, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

This team is just as good as the 2006 squad and YES they can win it all!!! GO TERPS "VAMOS TORTUGAS" desde Nicaragua

Posted by: ejb7777 | March 8, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I was there and exciting isn't a strong enough word. Way to go to all the ladies because although we had the shortest bench we have the players that are willing to dig deep. Congrats to you all.

Posted by: booba47 | March 8, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

This team has been playing amazing basketball the last few weeks. Kudos to them for a fabulous, hard-fought win. I'm so happy KT and Marissa got this one - they really deserved it.

I know many folks think the NCAA should just go ahead and give UConn the championship, but I believe they are beatable. If you watched the game against Rutgers, you saw some weaknesses - turnovers, mental lapses - that I know the Maryland coaches would find a way to exploit.

It seems like the refs at the ACC tournament tend to favor the Carolina teams. I know part of that is just my bias, but the refs sure helped Dook tie up the game in regulation. Non-Carolina teams always have an uphill battle because the tournament is essentially a home game for UNC, Duke and, to a lesser extent, Wake and NC State. That said, the Maryland and Virginia fans come out in full force.

Camille-your comment about how it "appeared" Mitchell put a forearm to Coleman's chest? There is absolutely no question she did. We had a clear view of it from our seats. We howled because the ref was standing right there, although to be fair, her view may have been blocked.

Posted by: krae-kartoons | March 9, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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