- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Maryland’s women’s basketball team stood tall over Sacred Heart yesterday.

More like towered.

Taking advantage of a substantial height difference, the second-seeded Terrapins dominated play under the basket on their way to a 95-54 victory in the first round of the NCAA tournament before 3,990 at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center.

Maryland (29-4) advanced to play seventh-seeded St. John’s at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the second round of the Albuquerque Region. The Red Storm beat 10th-seeded California 78-68.

Against 15th-seeded Sacred Heart, the Terps started three players who were 6-foot-1 or taller, led by 6-4 Laura Harper. The smaller Pioneers had just one starter over 6 feet, and three were 5-9 or shorter.

“We felt like we had the size advantage inside,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “I tell you, it made us a dangerous team. We attacked the glass very hard.”

Just how hard? Maryland outrebounded Sacred Heart 57-26, finished one rebound shy of its season high and outscored the Pioneers 56-14 in the paint.

Three Terps had at least 10 rebounds, and five had at least that many points.

Jade Perry led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Harper also recorded a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Shay Doron scored 17 points, Crystal Langhorne added 15 and Ashleigh Newman scored 12. Marissa Coleman contributed 10 rebounds.

“They’re just a very strong team,” Sacred Heart’s Jasmine Walker said. “Besides the fact that they’re all 6-2, 6-4, we’re a very small team. Obviously, they had an edge and were very strong inside.”

Sacred Heart (26-5) was led by Amanda Pape’s 16 points.

Entering the first round, the only question seemed to be how quickly Maryland would turn the game into the predictable blowout.

The Pioneers, the regular season and tournament champions of the Northeast Conference, were appearing in their first NCAA tournament and are in just their seventh season as a Division I program.

Still, they hung close early.

The Terps, using a fast-paced offense and a fullcourt, trapping defense, jumped out to leads of 9-2 and 16-7.

But behind a pair of 3-pointers from Nicole Rubino and a layup by Kerri Burke, Sacred Heart closed within 18-15 before Frese called a timeout with 14:42 left in the first half.

“I thought [Sacred Heart] came out and played extremely aggressive,” Frese said.

But the Terps’ size simply was too much for Sacred Heart. On defense, Maryland limited the Pioneers to two field goals over the next 9:19. During that same stretch, its offense began feeding the ball inside to Harper, Perry and Newman.

That helped the Terps build their advantage to as much as 22 points before they went into halftime with a 47-33 lead.

“Coach had stressed before the game that we had a size advantage over Sacred Heart, and our coaches really worked to stress getting the ball inside,” Langhorne said. “Our guards were just getting the ball to the right place and taking advantage of it.”

The Terps then opened the second half with a 21-2 run, sealing the win.

“Defensively, we just did a tremendous job, especially in the second half,” Frese said.

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