Monday, February 25, 2008

The senior day ceremonies tugged at the emotions of the Maryland women’s basketball team yesterday. Then the game did the same.

On a day in which a storied class of seniors was honored, No. 4 Maryland rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 3:55 of regulation and carried its momentum into overtime to dispatch Florida State 92-84 at Comcast Center.

It was an appropriate final regular-season home win for a senior class that became linked with overtime after the Terrapins needed the extra period to get to the Final Four and to win the national title in 2006.

Yesterday’s win also completed a 19-0 regular season for the Terps at Comcast Center, the fifth time in program history Maryland finished perfect at home.

Trailing 71-63 with 3:55 remaining, the Terps used a 13-5 run to storm back. Junior Marissa Coleman scored six of her 13 points during that time, the most important bucket being her baseline layup with 4.9 seconds remaining to tie the game 76-76.

Maryland then scored on each of its overtime possessions to secure the win.

“We spend a lot of time, and we take a lot of pride in our offensive execution,” assistant coach Daron Park said. “Today, obviously it was critical to us getting the win.”

The Terps saved their best for those critical moments. Throughout most of the game, they trudged through sloppy, turnover-prone play. The Seminoles took advantage, scoring 30 points off 23 Maryland turnovers.

“This is a special group of players,” Park said. “They do a pretty good job of staying even keel. That was critical to our run late in the game.”

Before the game, Maryland honored seniors Crystal Langhorne, Laura Harper, Ashleigh Newman, Jade Perry and redshirt junior Christie Marrone, who will graduate this summer. It was a tearful ceremony for the group, which will be remembered as the winningest class in program history and for leading Maryland to its only national championship.

Perry and Newman, normally the first two reserves used in Maryland’s games, earned starts in place of Coleman and freshman Marah Strickland.

Coach Brenda Frese, who gave birth to twin boys a week earlier, was at center court to honor her second recruiting class at Maryland. She watched the first half from the locker room but took her spot on the Terps’ bench for the second half.

It was a brief appearance with the team for Frese, who will continue to spend time at home with her new family. She expects to return to coaching for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, scheduled for March 23 and 25 at Comcast Center.

“It was really important for me to be here today for our seniors,” Frese said. “They’ve set the bar. They’ve set the standard for every team, for every player that comes to Maryland now.”

Note — Langhorne, Maryland’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, was part of another celebration after the game, when she became the fifth Terps player to have her jersey honored.

“There’s going to be a lot of other great players here at Maryland, but there’s only going to be one Crystal Langhorne,” Frese said.

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