- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stopping Maryland seniors Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman is always the focal point for opposing teams.

But during the Terrapins‘ recent four-game winning streak, the two seniors have been on such a hot streak that defenses can’t seem to figure out how to slow them down.

That’s the task that awaits Rutgers (14-9) when it visits No. 11 Maryland (20-4) on Sunday afternoon.

“What I love seeing is just how they’re playing with each other,” coach Brenda Frese said after Thursday’s 94-78 victory against Virginia. “They mean so much to this program. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the fact that they’re going to be graduating soon.”

It’s not just that they’ve been the Terps’ top two scorers each game of the current streak; that’s been commonplace all season. But the magnitude of their efforts have carried the Terps at the right time - as the season winds down and the jockeying for postseason positioning takes a major foothold.

On Feb. 2 at ACC-leading Florida State, Toliver scored the Terps’ final five points, including a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Maryland a one-point win. Coleman added 15 points as well in what is still the only blemish on the Seminoles’ conference record.

Three days later, the Terps overwhelmed N.C. State by shooting 56.7 percent from the field. On an emotional night that brought to mind memories of former Wolfpack coach Kay Yow, Toliver (15) and Coleman (14) highlighted five Terps in double figures.

Maryland’s duo went back to work Feb. 9, holding off an upset bid by Boston College. Coleman finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. Toliver had 19 points and seven assists, and in the process she picked up a loose ball and coolly nailed a 3-pointer to ice the win.

It’s been a crescendo of performances, the most recent being Coleman’s season-high 28 points and Toliver’s 25 against Virginia, the first time the pair have both netted at least 25 in the same game in their Maryland careers.

“They understand each and every game and how important it is,” Frese said.

Toliver and Coleman have shared the offensive load in conference play. Toliver is averaging 18.8 points and Coleman 18.5 in league play, good for third and fourth in the ACC. Perhaps just as importantly, the pair is spearheading Maryland’s intensified effort to become more consistent on defense, where the Terps have showed an occasional letdown.

The Terps are tied with Duke (8-2) and trail the Seminoles (9-1) by a game in the conference standings. They don’t play Florida State again in the regular season but will host the Blue Devils later this month.

“I’m just trying to focus on getting this ACC regular-season title and get some championships before I head out of here,” Coleman said.

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