Terps women refuse to hang weary heads Triple-OT defeat too good to lament

March 10, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

It didn't take long for one perceptive passenger boarding a plane from Charlotte, N.C., yesterday morning to determine that the collection of tall women flying with him to Baltimore were basketball players.

And when he asked where the players were from, their coach politely said Maryland.

So when the man asked how they had done the night before, and the coach told him they had lost to Virginia, 106-103, in triple overtime in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final, the man gave the only appropriate response:

"Wow!"

And, somehow, after Monday's game, perhaps the greatest in women's basketball history, the passenger's comments may still be inadequate to describe what happened.

Although the loss left Maryland's four seniors as the only class never to win a league championship, the brillance of the game itself helped heal the wounds.

"Sure, the loss hurts, but I think everybody is really proud of their effort," said coach Chris Weller. "A game like that does not come about unless you have two really great teams involved."

Those two teams, No. 12 Maryland (22-7) and No. 10 Virginia (24-5), had staged excellent battles in the past two seasons, with three of their four games decided by a total of seven points.

Those contests now seem to have been preludes to the high drama played out at Winthrop Coliseum Monday, where no team led by more than five points and the lead changed hands 21 times.

Various players took turns as heroes, but none stood taller than Virginia guard Dena Evans, who played the entire 55 minutes, scoring 19 points, with six assists and five rebounds to earn tournament Most Valuable Player honors.

Just as she had the night before against Clemson to move Virginia into the finals, Evans, a 5-foot-5 senior from Deer Park, Texas, hit a three-pointer with 11 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

L Then she made the follow-up that forced the second overtime.

Four Maryland players -- centers Jessie Hicks and Monica Adams, forward Bonnie Rimkus and guard Katrina Colleton -- and Virginia's twin towers, 6-5 Heather Burge and her twin sister, Heidi, fouled out.

The disqualifications forced Weller and Debbie Ryan, her Virginia counterpart, to juggle their lineups, with the Cavaliers using untested freshman center Jeffra Gausepohl, while Maryland turned to 5-10 guard Malissa Boles as their post player in the third overtime.

Gausepohl, who had not appeared in either of the previous Maryland-Virginia games, had 14 points in the three overtimes, with eight straight free throws, including the final four in the third overtime.

But Maryland got a few breaks of its own, the most miraculous coming at the end of the second overtime, when, trailing by three, freshman guard Lena Patterson banked a bonus shot off the glass at the buzzer.

Patterson had not taken a shot in the game to that point, and was, by Weller's confession, at best a fourth option on the play.

Still, more indicative of Maryland's fortunes were the missed opportunities, like two jumpers by Colleton at the end of regulation and the first overtime. If either had fallen, the Terps would have claimed their ninth ACC title.

Weller said: "People talk about Lena's shot being lucky, but what about Evans' shot? Katrina had been hitting that shot all night."

But yesterday, there was no reason for recriminations or second-guesses. The previous night's proceedings were too good for that.

Said Weller: "After something like that, there are all kinds of could haves, should haves that you think of. But I'm convinced that there was nothing that was wrong. It was just a great game."

A miss that made win

Maryland seemed en route to victory at the end of the first overtime Monday night, leading by two with 23 seconds left when Virginia's Charleata Beale missed her second straight free throw.

But suddenly on the miss, there were no Maryland players on the right side of the basket for the rebound and Virginia's 5-foot-5 Dena Evans was all alone for the rebound and layup that forced the second overtime.

Why did the Maryland players leave the area unguarded?

Apparently because Virginia drew them to the other side on a play from the timeout before the shot. Both Virginia players on the right side of the lane --ed to the left on the miss. The Terps, attempting to box out, went with them, leaving alone Evans, who sprinted from outside the lane to the right of the basket when the shot was released.

It also may have been the best shot of the night, because Beale had to hit the free throw off the right side of the rim to make the whole play work.

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