STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The ninth-ranked University of Maryland women's basketball team served notice here last night that they will be a force to be reckoned on the national scene, as they soundly defeated seventh-ranked Penn State, 85-58.
The win moved Maryland's record to 5-0 and will certainly propel the Terps upward in next week's rankings to their highest post since they were ranked fifth in 1988-89, the last time they went to the Final Four.
Before the game, Maryland coach Chris Weller was concerned with Penn State's height and experience: the Lions started four seniors to just one senior for the Terps.
But Maryland out hustled, outshot and generally demoralized the Lions, snapping their 29-game regular-season home winning streak and inflicting the worst home loss here since the 1988-89 Terps beat Penn State by 34 points.
The Terps used a stingy defense to deny entry passes to Penn State's taller low post players, then cut off the passing lanes, forcing 29 turnovers, which they repeatedly capitalized on for transition baskets.
"We were relying on our defense as our primary offensive weapon and we were pleased with the way that it worked out," said Weller.
Five Maryland players scored in double figures. Michele Andrew, a 6-1 junior forward from Helsinki, Finland, had 19 points; 6-4 junior center Jessie Hicks had 14; and Limor Mizrachi, a 5-7 sophomore guard from Givatyim, Israel, scored 12, including a pair of three-pointers.
In addition, Andrew did a yeoman defensive job on Penn State senior forward Susan Robinson, holding the 6-1 All-America candidate to just eight points.
"She [Robinson] insisted on putting the ball on the floor and when you're slow, you have to catch it and shoot it," said Penn State coach Rene Portland.
The Terps opened an early 17-6 lead as Andrew scored 10 points on offensive rebounds and short jumpers.
Penn State, with four seniors in the starting lineup, looked rattled, missing easy shots in the paint, and turning the ball over.
When Andrew picked up her second foul with 11:41 left in the half, Maryland shifted to a quicker pace, forcing more turnovers and fast breaking off the Lion miscues.
A layup from 6-4 junior center Hicks, who had 10 in the half, gave the Terps a 15-point lead with 9:57 left.
Penn State attempted a rally with about 8 minutes remaining in the half, as Kathy Phillips, a 6-3 senior center hit two free throws and sophomore reserve guard Jackie Donovan connected an 18-foot jumper from the right wing.
But after a timeout, the Terps went on an 8-0 run, with two drives from Dafne Lee, a 6-foot senior forward who played at Walbrook, a 14-foot jumper from Melissa Boles, a 5-10 junior from Milwaukee, and a running hook from Mizrachi[cq] put Maryland ahead by 20.
On defense, the Terps used their depth and quickness to pressure the slower Lions, who were denied a field goal on 11 straight possessions during one stretch.
Lee closed the first half with an 18-footer to give Maryland a 44-28 lead.