- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2008

For months now, coaches and players on the Maryland women’s basketball team have delivered the same message to Marissa Coleman: Don’t hesitate to take over a game.

“I’ve been telling her all year she can take this team on her back at any point,” senior Ashleigh Newman said. “You usually see it at the end of games.”

An example was the Florida State game Feb. 24. Coleman forced overtime on a driving layup with 4.9 seconds left. The Terrapins won 92-84.

But against Nebraska on Tuesday night, Coleman didn’t wait until the game’s waning moments to take over.

During a stretch early in the second half of a tight game, Coleman scored nine consecutive Maryland points to help the Terps to a 76-64 win in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Coleman scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half.

The win moved Maryland (32-3) into the Sweet 16 following a one-year absence. The top-seed Terps play No. 4 Vanderbilt (26-8) tomorrow night in Spokane, Wash.

The outburst came after a subpar first half by Coleman. She missed five of her six shots and wasn’t happy with her defensive performance.

Coleman was pressing but in a passive way, which isn’t the way she plays.

“Absolutely,” coach Brenda Frese said. “She was pressing because she loves our seniors, and she wanted them to advance to the Sweet 16 so the season isn’t deemed a failure.”

So starting late in the first half and continuing at halftime and in the second half, Frese urged Coleman to play more assertively.

“With our players, I pick and choose,” Frese said. “I can feel it, I can see it and when I do during a game, that’s where I’m going to be giving them a boost of confidence.”

The boost worked.

With Maryland leading 41-40 and 16:17 remaining, Coleman went to work.

• 16:02. Layup to make it 43-40.

• 15:18: Layup to make it 45-42.

• 14:38: 3-pointer to make it 48-45.

• 14:04: 18-foot jumper to make it 50-45.

Kristi Toliver hit a 3-pointer on the Terps’ next possession for an eight-point lead. Nebraska got no closer than four points after that.

“Our coaching staff has confidence in all of us, so if it wasn’t me, it could have been somebody else,” Coleman said. “Coach B was in my ear saying, ‘Keep with it. Don’t let it get to you that your shot isn’t falling.’ ”

Coleman’s biggest play of the second half may have come at the 8:58 mark when she intercepted a pass and wound up with a three-point play to restore Maryland’s eight-point advantage.

Coleman ranks third on the team in scoring (16.0) and rebounds (7.7) and second with 106 assists.

“She’s put many hours in the gym, I can definitely say that,” Newman said. “That’s what everybody is seeing out of her. She’s become a great player, and it’s only going to get better for her.”

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