- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2009

The Maryland women may have taken a break from the fast-paced ACC on Sunday, but not even defensive-minded Rutgers could slow down the Terrapins at home.

Behind its best defensive effort of the season, No. 11 Maryland dispatched the Scarlet Knights 67-47, extending its winning streak at Comcast Center to 32 games. The Terrapins (21-4) held Rutgers to 24.7 percent shooting, its worst mark of the season.

“I thought we did a tremendous job today understanding that this was going to be a different game, understanding it was going to come down to getting stops on the defensive end and executing on the offensive end,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said.

The Terps prefer to play an up-tempo style, but they showed they aren’t fazed by a defensive standoff. Dee Liles and Lynetta Kizer disrupted Rutgers’ post offense, while Marah Strickland shadowed star guard Epiphanny Prince most of the afternoon.

As Maryland’s lead grew steadily, the Scarlet Knights (14-10) deferred to Prince, their leading scorer. Facing constant harassment, the junior finished with 19 points on 7-for-29 shooting. Most of her output came when the Scarlet Knights trailed by double figures.

“She had to work. Every shot she took was a difficult shot,” Frese said. “It was a contested hand to the face. Nothing she got was easy.”

It didn’t get much better for the Scarlet Knights in the paint. Centers Rashidat Junaid and Kia Vaughn combined for just eight points on 5-for-18 shooting.

“I thought that Maryland played better defense than I’ve seen them play,” said Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, who last week was named one of 16 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “We need to get as many easy points as we can, and we weren’t running hard in transition.”

Meanwhile, the Terps were efficient enough in their halfcourt offense to enjoy a comfortable cushion most of the game. They shot 40 percent (20-for-50) from the floor and went 23-for-28 from the free throw line, more than enough punch to keep cold-shooting Rutgers at bay.

Seniors Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman continued the stellar play that has driven Maryland’s five-game winning streak. Coleman had a game-high 22 points to go with 10 rebounds, and Toliver contributed 18 points and five rebounds.

Coleman took advantage of Rutgers’ physical style, passing up jumpers and relentlessly attacking the basket. She was knocked to the floor a handful of times and had her headband knocked off twice, but she shook off each blow and calmly sank 12 of 14 free throws.

“They’re an aggressive team, and they really pride themselves on the defensive end,” Coleman said. “So coming into this game, the coaching staff said whenever we drive to the lane, expect contact.”

Maryland scored the game’s first six points and jumped out to an early 14-2 lead. Rutgers closed the gap to 20-17 with 4:45 left in the first half, but then Coleman scored five points during a 10-2 run that gave the Terps a 30-19 advantage at halftime.

A 3-pointer by Toliver made it 41-25 with 16:59 remaining, and the Scarlet Knights didn’t have enough firepower to make a comeback.

“We know that time is winding down, and we want to take advantage of every opportunity that we have,” Toliver said. “There are potentially a lot of games left to be played, so we just want to continue to get better and get our teammates better so we can play until April.”

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