- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2008

If the Maryland women’s basketball team didn’t learn the lesson last season, its ACC foes this year are again driving the point home.

Opponents play their best against the Terrapins.

Junior Marissa Coleman had 21 points and 12 rebounds and sparked a key 20-5 second half run as No. 4 Maryland escaped Virginia 86-80 last night at Comcast Center.

It was fourth nail-biter in five games for the Terps (25-2, 9-1 ACC), who also have played in three overtime games in the past three weeks.

“We’re a great program and we’ve had a lot of success the past couple of years,” Coleman said. “Whenever we step onto the floor, we’re going to get our opponents’ best shot.”

Maryland was at risk of letting the game slip away when Coleman ignited the run that propelled the Terps to victory. She converted two 3-point plays and scored 10 points during a 5:07 stretch that erased an eight-point Virginia lead and gave the Terps a 71-65 lead with 6:03 left.

“She gave us a huge boost of energy right at a critical time,” coach Brenda Frese said. “We needed to get a catalyst, and I thought she did a tremendous job.”

But the Cavaliers did not go away easily. They came within a possession of tying the game six times in the closing minutes but couldn’t connect on the critical basket to tie or take the lead, and the Terps put the game away with free throws.

Senior Laura Harper led all scorers with 25 points. Senior Crystal Langhorne added 17 and junior Kristi Toliver finished with 16 for Maryland.

The Terps’ size posed problems for the Cavaliers. Virginia leading scorer Monica Wright played just 20 minutes and leading rebounder Aisha Mohammed just 22 because of foul trouble. Maryland took advantage, going 22-for-29 from the free throw line.

The Cavaliers gave the Terps a dose of their own medicine, running every chance they could. Virginia used a small lineup and its quick guards found easy looks in transition, and flashed through Maryland’s zone to get open jumpers.

The Terps had to turn to the seldom-used box-and-one and triangle-and-two defenses to slow down guards Paulisha Kellum (23 points) and Sharnee Zoll (13 points) in the second half.

“We’re going to play to win games,” Harper said. “Whatever is effective to stop people, that’s what we’re going to do. They have two extremely potent scorers on their team, so why not try and stop them?”

The win was critical for Maryland as it tries to catch North Carolina in the conference standings and stay ahead of Virginia (17-6, 5-2), which had won 11 of its past 12 games.

“It speaks to how good the ACC is,” Frese said. “There are no easy wins that you can take for granted.”

Note — Maryland honored former guard Shay Doron during a halftime ceremony. Frese’s first recruit at Maryland, Doron ranks third on the Terps’ all-time scoring list with 1,878 points. Her jersey now hangs next to the 2006 national championship banner.

“I want us always to remember what No. 22, Shay Doron, stood for was everything we represent as Maryland women’s basketball,” Frese said.

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