- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Hundreds of University of Maryland students turned out yesterday to hail the champion women’s basketball team and celebrate the school’s first NCAA women’s basketball title.

The university band, spirit squad and dance team, as well as Testudo, the school mascot, trumpeted the team back to campus after a wild, come-from-behind 78-75 victory against rival Duke University on Tuesday night.

The students, many wearing red hooded sweatshirts that asserted “Fear the Turtle,” packed into an amphitheater near the student union that was festooned with a gigantic inflatable turtle and dozens of red, black and gold balloons.

“I did a scientific poll last night in the [hotel] lobby, and I discovered that this team has arrived,” said Brenda Frese, the team’s head coach. “We have some great stuff going on here.”

Amid the cheers and blare of Queen’s “We are the champions,” students choked the entry for the players and had to be pushed back by police.

Crystal Langhorne, the sophomore center from Willingboro, N.J., triumphantly entered the rally with the cut-down net from the game around her neck and high-fived students on her way to the floor.

“So many people told me, ‘You have to be foolish to come to Maryland.’ But look at us now — we are national champions,” Langhorne said.

Other players had pieces of the net tied onto their hats.

After the rally, players took some time to sign autographs for children and to pose for more pictures.

Tuesday night’s game in Boston against the Blue Devils went into overtime after Kristi Toliver hit a dramatic three-pointer at the end of regulation that capped a 13-point comeback. The freshman made two free throws at the end of overtime to give the Terrapins the championship.

“I would like to take Kristi out to Olive Garden for dinner,” said Brandon Gardener, a sophomore at the rally whose friends immediately said he stole their idea.

Senior Jamie Moore said he is glad that he won’t be graduating this year.

“I am sticking around for another championship,” he said.

After the game, jubilant students in College Park streamed out of the dorms to Route 1, the traditional meeting spot whenever a Maryland team wins.

Things quickly went sour as students began to light bonfires and rock buses. Riot police arrived to shoot tear gas into the crowd, quickly dispersing students.

One girl was injured seriously after she was struck by a car.

Though not at yesterday’s rally, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr., a University of Maryland alumnus, had the school’s fight song played in the State House chamber in Annapolis.

“It was a glorious, glorious day,” Mr. Miller, Prince Georges Democrat, said of the game. “It was the best basketball game I have ever seen.”

Several senators then spoke, praising the Terrapins. Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, Baltimore Democrat and a Duke graduate, had to wear a University of Maryland hat during the session after losing a bet to Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr., Prince George’s Democrat and a University of Maryland alumnus whose district includes College Park.

The Terrapins will visit the White House today and the General Assembly tomorrow.

Jon Ward contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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