- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2008

As the seconds wound down in the first half Sunday, Maryland point guard Kristi Toliver waltzed up the court and fired a 3-pointer from beyond the new men’s arc.

The senior’s shot bounced high off the iron, but sophomore forward Drey Mingo grabbed the rebound and scored on a putback just before the clock expired.

That’s the kind of afternoon it was for No. 11 Maryland, which did the small things right and cruised to its 24th consecutive home win with an 88-65 drubbing of UCLA.

Toliver, who on Sunday became the 10th women’s player in school history to score 1,500 points, led the way with 25 points and five assists. Teammate Marissa Coleman contributed 22 points and nine rebounds.

The blowout concluded a much easier second week for Maryland (3-1), which also beat James Madison by 14 on Thursday.

This time last week, the Terps had to regroup following a turbulent weekend that included a season-opening loss to TCU and an uninspired win over Delaware State.

“We talked about wanting to get our confidence back and playing like a team,” coach Brenda Frese said. “To be able to see and trust the fact that we will make mistakes but when we stay patient within the game things will work out was a really good lesson for us to learn.”

It appears Frese already has purged Maryland of the flaws that hampered it in those first two games. There was no second-half letdown, fewer defensive lapses and a more focused effort on offense.

A lot of that can be credited to the fact that the young Terps got another week of experience with each other. With two new starters and an elevated role for nearly every returning player, the Terps are developing a stronger rapport as each game passes.

And after convincing victories over the Dukes and Bruins, Maryland’s outlook heading into next week’s holiday tournament in Cancun, Mexico, is much sunnier.

“We’re starting to get into a rhythm,” Toliver said. “Early on, with a whole new team we had to build that chemistry, and now we’re really building it, and good things are starting to happen. Everybody’s getting good shots. Today, everybody was really unselfish with the ball, and we got a lot of easy shots. We’ll just continue to take what the defense gives us.”

Maryland built an early lead thanks to its defense. The Terps missed their first nine shots but still established a double-digit advantage midway through the first half. They used a 13-3 run to stretch their lead to 30-10 with 5:36 left before the break.

UCLA helped Maryland’s cause with a first half to forget. The Bruins shot 18.2 percent and had nearly three times as many turnovers (17) as field goals (six). They didn’t make a shot from the floor until Moniquee Alexander’s basket 7:36 into the game.

Sophomore Marah Strickland and redshirt senior Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood split time shadowing UCLA star Doreena Campbell, who finished with 25 points but did most of her damage with the game out of reach.

“Sa’de and Marah really had a tough assignment on her,” Frese said. “Marah in the first half sacrificed some of her offense to be able to be put on their best player. So I thought they did an excellent job against a really tough offensive player.”

Facing their first comparable frontcourt of the season, the Terps’ new low-post duo of freshman Lynetta Kizer and junior Demauria Liles continued to impress. The contrast of Kizer’s size and strength and Liles’ quickness and athleticism has become a potent combination for Maryland.

With UCLA poised to stop the Terps’ perimeter threats, Kizer (10 points, six rebounds) and Liles (13 points, eight rebounds) had several easy opportunities underneath.

“I think that just shows how talented a team we are,” Coleman said. “Kristi is a great player, and teams focus on her, but when they do, it opens up the rest for us. It goes to show that we are a deep and talented team.”

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