Maryland was locked in a tie with James Madison when Kristi Toliver took it upon herself to end the Dukes' upset bid.
Slicing through the lane at every opportunity, the 5-foot-7 Toliver made three layups and two free throws in a pivotal 18-3 run that carried the 11th-ranked Terrapins to a 90-76 victory Thursday night at Comcast Center.
Toliver finished with 27 points and 10 assists to help Maryland (2-1) extend its home winning streak to 23. The score was 57-57 with 11:46 left before the Terps, led by their senior point guard, pulled away.
"When the game was getting close, that's the time to attack the rim," Toliver said. "I just wanted to attack their bigs, because I knew I was faster than them. You have to take advantage of what the defense gives you."
Toliver gave Maryland the lead for good with a layup, and a jumper in the paint by Marissa Coleman made it 61-57. After Dawn Evans hit a 3-pointer for the Dukes, the Terps peeled off 14 straight points to seal the win.
"We had a couple of mental breakdowns in the defensive end, which led to some easy opportunities for them," James Madison coach Kenny Brooks said. "And even when they missed, they cleaned up with second-chance opportunities. We let it get away from us, didn't execute, and it cost us."
Evans led James Madison (1-1) with 33 points on 14-for-33 shooting, and Courtney Hamner scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half.
The Dukes, who had their 30-game home winning streak ended by Maryland last year, are 1-7 against the Terps.
"We're not into moral victories, but I'm proud of the effort they gave," Brooks said. "If we continue to get that kind of effort, it will equate to wins for us."
Lynetta Kizer scored 18, Demauria Liles had 16 and Coleman added 14 for Maryland, which got only four points from its reserves.
"I'm very excited about the second half," Terps coach Brenda Frese said. "I thought we had some critical stops at really key points in the game. Our defense helped us execute on the offensive end."
Maryland trailed by one before Marah Strickland made two free throws to spark an 8-2 spree that made it 51-46. But a layup by Evans and three straight baskets by Sarah Williams got the Dukes within a point, and a 3-pointer by Hamner tied it at 57.
The Dukes, however, would make only one basket over the next six minutes.
Liles and Toliver each scored 10 points, and Maryland overcame 13 turnovers to take a 35-34 halftime lead.
There were five ties in the early going until the Terps used a 10-3 run to go up 29-22. The Dukes stayed close behind Evans, who accounted for 14 of the Dukes' first 22 points and had 16 at the break.
Evans gave the Dukes their only lead of the half, hitting a jumper to make it 34-33.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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