Terps Women Need Comeback to Advance
From Camille Powell:
So much over the past month came so easily for the top-seeded Maryland women’s basketball team, that it seemed as if they would step onto the Greensboro Coliseum court against a team it had blown out earlier in the season and waltz into the ACC tournament semifinals.
Instead, the Terrapins had to battle back from a 12-point deficit over the final 9 minutes 50 seconds against upstart Wake Forest, the ninth seed. Maryland, led by its all-ACC seniors Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman, stayed poised and pulled out a 72-70 quarterfinal victory.
Maryland (26-4) will face fourth-seeded North Carolina (26-5) in the 1 p.m. semifinal on Saturday. The Tar Heels, who have played in the past seven finals, beat 12th-seeded Clemson, 74-55, in the quarterfinals.
Toliver, who earlier in the day was named the ACC player of the year, finished with 15 points and Coleman added 12. Freshman center Lynetta Kizer led the Terrapins with 16 points.
After his team beat N.C. State in the first round on Thursday, Wake Forest Coach Mike Petersen outlined two keys to beating Maryland: first, a team needs to shoot well and put up points, because the Terrapins have a prolific offense; and second, a team needs to minimize Toliver and Coleman, and force them to take difficult shots.
The Demon Deacons were able to do both through the first 20 minutes, and took a 42-41 lead into the locker room following a buzzer-beating jumper by 5-foot-4 freshman Brooke Thomas. Wake Forest — which went scoreless for the first seven minutes and fell behind, 20-0, in the team’s regular season meeting — shot 51.5 percent from the floor, and made three straight three-pointers late in the half to take the lead.
Coleman, who was often shadowed by 5-foot-11 senior Alex Tchangoue, missed five of the seven shots she attempted, and was also called for an offensive foul. Toliver was 1 of 4 from the field, and was guarded by taller (5-11 Courtney Morris) and smaller (Thomas) players.
But junior forward Dee Liles (11 points, all in the first half) and a pair of redshirt freshman guards, Anjale [accent on the e] Barrett and Kim Rodgers, picked up the slack. Liles was active inside, while Barrett and Rodgers — both of whom sport heavy braces on their right knees — combined to score 14 of Maryland’s final 17 points of the half.
With 17 minutes 24 seconds left in the game, freshman center Lynetta Kizer scored inside to bring the Terrapins to within three points, 48-45. But they went scoreless over the next five and a half minutes and committed myriad mistakes in that span: passes were thrown away, players were stripped of the ball, lay-ups and free throws were missed.
Even when the Terrapins got the occasional defensive stop — like when Barrett stole the ball — it didn’t turn into points — she missed a lay-up and Marah Strickland’s follow-up was errant. Wake Forest opened up a 59-47 lead with 12:10 to play.
Maryland trailed by 12 with slightly less than 10 minutes to go, but Toliver converted a long three-pointer from the left side, only her second make from beyond the arc, and that seemed to spark the Terrapins. Kizer grabbed an errant shot from Toliver, scored and was fouled, drawing screams from the two Maryland seniors. A minute later, Kizer made two free throws to bring the Terrapins to within 63-59.
Then Coleman and Toliver took over. Toliver fed Coleman for a jumper, and then Toliver turned a defensive rebound into a step-back three from the left side, and suddenly Maryland was down only one. The Terrapins took their first lead of the second half on a lay-up from Coleman — set up, of course, by a long pass from Toliver.
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