Terps women hold off Texas, 75-68

December 04, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

RICHMOND, Va. -- In four months, the Maryland Terrapins hope to join the elite of the women's basketball world at the Richmond Coliseum for the Final Four.

The 24th-ranked Terps took their first tiny, but important step toward that goal here last night, beating Texas, 75-68, in the first round of the Central Fidelity Classic at Robins Center.

Maryland (3-0), which will meet No. 13 Southern Cal in the title game tonight, nearly surrendered an 18-point first-half lead before holding off the inexperienced Longhorns (1-2).

Freshman guard Lillian Purvis, the most inexperienced of the Maryland starters, had a game-high 20 points, with four three-pointers, the last coming with 7:09 left to give the Terps a 10-point lead.

Purvis asked Maryland coach Chris Weller to guard highly touted Texas junior guard Nekeshia Henderson, and did a good job, holding her to 12 points -- 10 below her season average.

"Lillian is too slow and too short to do what she's doing, but you can't measure heart," Weller said. "She wanted to guard Henderson and we said, 'Oh, boy.' She was surprised, but she stuck with it."

Said Texas coach Jody Conradt: "Nekeshia had had it too good over the previous two games. She hadn't seen that kind of pressure. None of us had. We just did not make good decisions."

After Texas' Amie Smith hit a layup with 55 seconds left, the Longhorns trailed 74-68. But they never got another shot at the basket, thanks as much to good Maryland defense as their own indecision.

"They are fun to be around," Weller said of her team. "They have a good sense of team. They have confidence in themselves."

The Terps played nearly flawless basketball in the first half, exploiting a pronounced height advantage to work good shots inside to the tune of 53 percent field-goal shooting, while forcing the Longhorns out on the perimeter for jumpers.

Michele Andrew got things started early with six of Maryland's first 12 points, as the Terps took a 12-5 lead in the first four minutes.

The Longhorns were unable to get any semblance of an inside attack going and Conradt was forced to bring in freshman guard Danielle Viglione, who had 20 points in her first full collegiate game, to extend the Maryland defense.

It worked for a time, as Viglione scored 14 straight points -- 12 coming on four three-pointers -- to narrow the Maryland lead to 20-18 with 12 minutes left.

From there, however, the Terps reasserted control, as Purvis, who moved to the point when Karon Ferguson got her second foul with 10 minutes left, connected on three medium-range jumpers, then hit two three-pointers to launch a decisive 21-5 run that helped Maryland lead 46-34 at the half.

In the opener, Southern Cal (2-0) overcame a sluggish start, poor shooting and a deliberate Richmond offense to brush off the Spiders, 80-59.

Two-time All-American Lisa Leslie led USC with 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Nicole McCrimmon had 13 points and nine assists. Laura Barnes and Denise Winn had 18 points each for Richmond (1-1).

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