A senior whirlwind from St. Louis and an inability to convert free throws spelled doom for the Maryland women last night in a NCAA Mideast Regional tournament game in Worcester, Mass.
The Lady Terps, who held the No. 6 seeding to Holy Cross' No. 11, were still burning about having to take their show on the road. Anger wasn't enough, however, and the Crusaders won, 81-74.
The Lady Terps were denied a chance for a home game when the men's East Regional bumped them out of Cole Field House. Still, they were favored to win.
Mary Helen Walker of Holy Cross didn't see it that way, though. She was nearly unstoppable in the second half, racking up 26 points and nine rebounds for the game. The Lady Terps, meanwhile, were making just 10 of 19 free throws while Holy Cross sank 26 of 37.
"Basically, our inexperience was the deciding factor," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "We came in here and reacted to the conditions -- the crowd and the noise -- and it hurt us."
With five minutes to go, the Lady Terps had a 63-59 lead, but four free throws by Holy Cross' Kris Shields tied the game and then Walker led her club on a 17-4 closing spree.
"We proved tonight we belonged in the tournament," Holy Cross Coach Bill Gibbons said.
"Our huddles were everything," Walker said. "When we got together, we knew we weren't going to lose. You could see it in everyone's eyes."
Holy Cross, now 25-5, now plays third-seeded Auburn on Sunday. The Lady Terps wound up their season with a 17-13 record.
Maryland wasn't the only favored team to bow in the women's tournament last night. Cal State Fullerton shocked two-time champ Louisiana Tech, 84-80, whikle Lamar bounced 16th-ranked Texas, 77-63. Rutgers, which was 16-0 at home, fell to Toledo, 83-65.
At Harrisonburg, Va., Vicki Harris had 15 points and 10 rebounds and James Madison rallied in the second half to defeat Kentucky 70-62. JMU will play No. 1 Penn State (29-1) Saturday at Penn State.