Wake women catch Maryland in a slumber for 69-64 stunner

February 27, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland women's basketball team needed only to play a consistent game against Wake Forest to clinch a .500 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference and stake a claim to an NCAA tournament bid.

Instead, the Terps turned in one of their worst efforts of the season, trailing the last-place Demon Deacons by as much as 15 in the second half before mustering a comeback that fell short, 69-64.

The Terps (13-12, 7-8), who play host to Clemson on Wednesday night in the regular-season finale, still may earn a postseason berth, but, last night, they hardly resembled an NCAA tournament team.

"I apologize for how poorly we looked but that's an insult to how well Wake Forest played," said Maryland coach Chris Weller.

The Demon Deacons (7-18, 3-13) did play a brilliant tactical game, seizing control of the tempo from start to finish.

In contrast to the first meeting, which Maryland captured, 82-67, last month, Wake Forest, which has suffered through injuries and illness all season, played with poise.

"This has been a long time coming," said Wake Forest coach Karen Freeman. "We've had some struggles, but this is an indication of the progress we made."

Wake Forest point guard Nicole Levesque was the instrument of Maryland's destruction, with 21 points -- including sinking all 14 foul shots-- and 11 assists.

Levesque shined brightly at the end when Wake needed it most. The Terps had sliced a 15-point lead to two with less than a minute left, when the 5-foot-4 senior whipped a no-look pass to freshman Lindsey Seawright (Bethesda, Whitman High) cutting to the basket.

Seawright scored on the lay-in, drawing the fifth foul on Maryland's Monica Adams. The three-point play gave the Demon Deacons a five-point lead with 59.1 seconds left and effectively slammed the door on the Terps, who have lost four straight and fell to 0-6 in games decided by five points or less.

"It was kind of a desperation thing," said Levesque. "The shot clock was winding down and usually when that happens, the defense usually collapses on me. Lindsey's man stepped up on me. She was wide-open. It was a good catch."

Still, despite Wake's efforts, the Terps deserve a great deal of blame for one of the worst home losses in the program's history.

The Terps seemed content to let huge stretches of the clock run down without shooting, while on defense, they seemed unable to stop Wake from scoring when they had to.

Their lapses allowed the Demon Deacons, who shot 64 percent in the second half, to become the fourth straight team to shoot over 60 percent in the second half of a game.

"We were trying to play some kind of containing defense so that we could get a flow," said Weller. "We didn't do a very good job of it."

With Maryland trailing 44-29 with 16:22 left, Weller removed Bonnie Rimkus, an All-America candidate, and kept her out for six minutes.

Not so coincidentally, when Rimkus returned, with 10:39 left, the Terps, who had cut the deficit to eight, began to slowly chip away at the Wake lead.

"I was surprised and grateful," Freeman said of the absence of Rimkus, who had 32 points in the first game. "With Rimkus in the paint, I felt good about our chances and with her sitting down, I felt even more confident."

Trailing 60-50 with 5:16 left, Maryland kept Wake scoreless for 3 1/2 minutes, as Rimkus, who had 19 points, hit two free throws, hit a 15-footer and made a nice assist on a backdoor basket by Adams that pulled Maryland within 60-58 with 2:09 left.

"When she did come back in, she did a better job on the defensive end and we got back," said Weller.

But Levesque made two foul shots with 1:43 left, setting the stage for the pass to Seawright 44 seconds later.

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