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.
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