Virginia ousts Maryland women

March 07, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun Staff Writer

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- The look on Bonnie Rimkus' face said it all.

Rimkus, the fulcrum of the Maryland women's basketball team throughout this up-and-down season, saw the Terps and herself hit bottom yesterday in a dismal 63-45 loss to No. 8 Virginia in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

The Terps (15-13) suffered their worst loss in the 17-year history of the tournament and had the third-worst offensive output by a team in the ACC championships.

And Rimkus, the league's No. 2 regular-season scorer, a first-team All-ACC choice and an All-America candidate, was held scoreless, the first time that's happened since Feb. 18, 1993.

"I really have no words, to be totally honest," said Rimkus. "They [her teammates] played well and I didn't."

Now Maryland, which had appeared to sew up an NCAA tournament bid the day before by beating Duke, 60-45, in the quarterfinals, must wait six days to see if it is in the 64-team field.

The Terps don't present much of a record to the NCCA selection committee, but they have played nine games against teams that were ranked in the Top 25 at one time this season and seven games against schools (Tennessee, North Carolina, Southern California, Virginia) ranked in the top 6 of the poll.

"I think we should get a shot at it [the tournament]," said Rimkus. "We had a pretty good reason for the experience we had and the teams we played. I don't want to say we deserve a shot at it, but look at the teams that we played. Coach [Chris] Weller didn't put us against any Podunk U. schools. I don't think our record has anything to do with it."

Actually the Terps, who posted a season low in points and the worst offensive performance by a Maryland team since they scored 44 points in a one-point loss to Duke Feb. 1, 1991, didn't play so badly yesterday.

They committed 19 turnovers -- they average 18.8. And they held the Cavaliers, who possess one of the nation's more potent offenses, to 63 points, their fifth-lowest total of the year.

But, in what has become a recurring nightmare for Maryland, their offense went kaput, going scoreless for seven minutes in the second half after slicing a seven-point halftime deficit to one.

From there, Virginia (25-3), which will meet No. 5 North Carolina (26-2) tonight for the league championship, scored 13 unanswered points to take a 46-32 lead that the Terps could not overcome.

Defensively, the Cavaliers did a splendid job of clogging the middle and limiting the Maryland offense to perimeter jumpers and infrequent layups.

"Virginia played a stifling defense," said Weller. "We couldn't getmuch going."

Virginia forward Amy Lofstedt was the defensive star. She drew Rimkus and kept her off-balance.

Surrendering three inches in height to the 6-foot-4 Rimkus, Lofstedt, a junior from Ankeny, Iowa, shadowed her through the Maryland half-court set and wouldn't allow Rimkus, Maryland's best three-point and low-post threat, to get comfortable in either spot.

"I just tried to deny her on the wing," said Lofstedt. "If she can't touch the ball, she can't score. That's my philosophy."

Said Rimkus: "I was a little bit surprised because she's not known for her defense, but she was pretty much just glued to me. I guess she was pretty determined to get her job done, and she did it."

Just as in College Park, where Virginia won, 86-83, in double overtime, the Terps had no answer for Virginia point guard Tora Suber. She had 19 points and shot 8-for-11 from the floor, including two three-pointers.

Suber, the league's Rookie of the Year, led the second-half Virginia run that blew the game open, with four points, a steal and two assists.

"At first, I thought I would bring her along slowly and wean her to college basketball," said Virginia coach Debbie Ryan. "She has really proven to me that she is a money player, a big-time player."

Tonight's championship game will match the ACC's best two teams in a grudge match.

The Cavaliers handed North Carolina, which nipped third seed Clemson, 65-64, in the other semifinal, its only two losses of the season.

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