- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Maryland women’s basketball team had a pretty good idea two things were coming during the NCAA women’s basketball selection show — a No. 2 seed and a shout-out for guard Kristi Toliver.

The Terrapins received both when the final pairing of the 64-team field was revealed last night. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Dayton bracket, and ESPN analyst Stacey Dales finished her discussion of the Terps by exclaiming, “I love you, Kristi Toliver.”

“Since Kristi played her in horse at the Final Four last year, she’s been a big Kristi Toliver fan,” forward Marissa Coleman said. “We were waiting to see when that punch line was going to come.”

Now, the Terps (27-5) hope Toliver gets another chance to beat Dales in a few weeks in Cleveland.

Maryland will meet Harvard (15-12) in the first round in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday. A win would set up a meeting with Texas Christian or Mississippi — two teams the Terps already have defeated — on Tuesday.

It is the second straight season the Terps are a No. 2 seed. And while that placement rankled Maryland last season, the Terps seemed pleased with starting from a familiar spot this time.

“Twice would be nice to be able to have that,” coach Brenda Frese said. “We understand how difficult that is.”

The Terps arguably are in the roughest regional, one loaded with talented post players. Maryland could meet third-seeded Oklahoma and forward Courtney Paris in the regional semifinal. Candace Parker-led Tennessee is the top seed, while Ohio State and center Jessica Davenport — who knocked out Maryland in 2005 — also are in the Dayton bracket.

The Terps opened the season with 18 straight victories but were a combined 0-4 against eventual No. 1 seeds Duke and North Carolina, almost ensuring a No. 1 seed would be unlikely.

“Granted we have five losses, but it’s better to have those in the regular season than the postseason,” Toliver said. “Right now we know it’s one and done. We’re just ready to go out, play confident and win six games in a row.”

That is the plan for the Terps, who as defending champs no doubt will be remembered best for how they fare in March.

“We just know what’s expected,” Coleman said. “Last year we had a few scares in games. I think we’re better prepared this year. We’ve been practicing hard, and with the way our regular season turned out, nobody was too happy with it.”

Duke (30-1) is the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and won’t have to leave North Carolina until the Final Four in Cleveland. The Blue Devils will open in Raleigh, then move over to Greensboro for the regional with two victories. North Carolina is the top seed in the Dallas bracket.

Traditional power Connecticut (Fresno) is the other No. 1 seed.

Elsewhere in the area, George Washington earned a No. 5 seed in the Dallas bracket, its best since earning a No. 5 seed in 1997. The Colonials (26-3) won the Atlantic 10 regular season title and will make their fifth straight NCAA appearance and their 14th in the last 17 years.

George Washington, which had won 19 straight before losing to Saint Joseph’s in the Atlantic 10 semifinals, will meet No. 12 Boise State (24-8) in the first round Saturday in Los Angeles.

Old Dominion (24-8), which won the Colonial Athletic Association tournament for the 16th straight season, secured a No. 7 seed in the Fresno bracket. The Monarchs will face No. 10 Florida State (22-9) in their opener on Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif.

James Madison (27-5) earned an at-large berth as a No. 9 seed and will open at Pittsburgh in the Dayton bracket. The Dukes, making their first appearance since 1996, likely would get a shot at top-seeded Tennessee with a first-round victory.

Maryland-Baltimore County (16-16) is the No. 16 seed in the Fresno bracket and will face Connecticut in Hartford. The Retrievers were a No. 7 seed in the America East tournament but won three straight to earn the first NCAA berth in school history.

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