- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2006

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five players scored 10 or more points. Three players had at least that many rebounds. The point guard had double digits in assists. Five players contributed significant minutes — off the bench.

It seems every player helped out the Maryland women’s basketball team during its 95-54 victory over Sacred Heart in the first round of the NCAA tournament Sunday. It was the kind of effort that left Pioneers coach Ed Swanson convinced the Terrapins are poised to make a tournament run through March and into April.

“They are national title contenders,” he said. “There’s not many weaknesses. Inside and outside, they might be young, but they don’t play young. They don’t make mistakes.”

The next step for the second-seeded Terps (29-4) comes tonight, when they face seventh-seeded St. John’s (22-7) from the Big East in the second round of the Albuquerque Region at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center. The winner will advance to the Sweet 16 on Saturday against third-seeded Baylor, which beat 11th-seeded New Mexico 87-67 last night.

If anything, the Terps’ starting lineup should be well-rested. Only one starter, forward Marissa Coleman, played more than 25 minutes Sunday.

After Maryland went on a 21-2 run to start the second half against Sacred Heart, increasing its lead to 68-35, the team’s starters slowly gave way to reserves.

“That was tremendous,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Obviously, to get that kind of quality rest is huge. It was great to be able to see every player get on the floor. Those who have worked so hard contributed to this game.”

And the contributions were limitless.

Forward Laura Harper, three games removed from a disappointing three-point, six-rebound effort against Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament, scored 16 points and had 13 rebounds.

“That’s what we need her to do,” Frese said. “She was active, and she was aggressive. Hopefully, this gives her some confidence under her belt.”

Point guard Kristi Toliver had career highs in assists (12) and steals (three) and energized the crowd when she stumbled and fell at midcourt but quickly recovered and never lost her dribble.

“We’ve been talking about this with Kristi, bringing some extra hustle and energy to this team,” Frese said. “She’s a real poised, controlled point guard, but I would like to see her play with more energy on the floor. The team feeds off her at that position.”

The contributions didn’t stop there:

• Guards Ashleigh Newman and Shay Doron combined for 29 points, including five 3-pointers.

• In 24 minutes off the bench, forward Jade Perry recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

• Forward Angel Ross, who had appeared in just 12 games this season, even chipped in with an assist and two rebounds in eight minutes of play.

“It was a just solid, overall game by this team,” Frese said.

Notes — With a victory tonight, the Terps will advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since the 1992 season, when they made it all the way to the Elite Eight. Maryland has lost in the second round the past two seasons. … St. John’s, which beat 10th-seeded California 78-68 on Sunday, is in the second round for the second time in the program’s history. The Red Storm have never made it to the Sweet 16.

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