Maryland taps reserves, wins behind Bennett's 24 Terps women stop Clemson, 81-73

February 19, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Monica Bennett is not an actress, but her work in a supporting role last night for the 12th-ranked Maryland women's basketball team saved the Terps from a repeat of a horror flick they saw Saturday.

Bennett's career-high 24 points, including four three-pointers in the second half, got the Terps a hard-earned, 81-73 win over No. 20 Clemson last night at Cole Field House.

"She [Bennett] was the difference tonight. You're expecting Jessie Hicks or Malissa Boles or Katrina Colleton to hurt you. She's the unknown factor," said Clemson coach Jim Davis.

Boles had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Hicks had 18 points.

Maryland (18-5, 9-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) dropped a 10-point lead at North Carolina State Saturday in the last five minutes and nearly watched a seven-point lead over Clemson (15-7, 7-6) evaporate in the last five minutes.

But Bennett, a reserve guard who had 19 points Saturday, was the difference on a night when Colleton was scoreless and the Terps needed an offensive spark.

"We normally don't like to see this happen, but Monica's really stepped up in recent games," said Maryland coach Chris Weller.

But a few Tigers turnovers and a questionable decision by Davis helped the Terps hang on to the win. Davis elected to leave his best three-point shooter on the floor with four fouls when his team was looking to foul to stop the clock.

With 40 seconds left and the Tigers trailing by four, Davis kept TaraSaunooke, who had made four first-half three pointers, in the game with four fouls and with the Tigers at the foul line.

The situation called for Clemson to foul to stop the clock, and Saunooke did just that, perhaps robbing the Tigers of their best chance to get back into the game.

"I might have had a chance to make a substitution," Davis said. "I don't know. But a lot of girls in that situation wouldn't make the foul and let the clock run out. Tara was intelligent enough to do that."

The victory sets up Maryland's match with North Carolina tomorrow as a game for second place in the league, while virtually eliminating Clemson from title contention.

In the first half, the Tigers hardly looked like the team that dropped a two-point game to last-place Duke earlier in the week. They mixed and matched their inside and outside games to near perfection, scoring the first nine points of the game and taking an early, 12-2 lead.

Though the Terps opened the game in their usual man-to-man, Clemson was able to exploit the Maryland defense with a motion offense that opened the middle for center Shandy Bryan and forward Jessica Barr.

And when the Terps switched to a zone to choke off the inside, the Tigers -- second in the ACC in three-point attempts -- lit them up from the outside.

With Maryland trailing 30-15, Weller was forced to take a timeout and make a defensive adjustment. The Terps went to a full-court press that picked up the pace and allowed them to run a bit more.

That switch -- and Clemson's decision to stay out of a collapsing zone, which can take Hicks out of the offensive set -- got the Terps back into the game. Hicks and Bennett led Maryland on an immediate 8-0 run that cut the lead to 30-23.

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