Terps women let Duke get away again, 60-52 Blue Devils force OT, then settle issue quickly in ACC tournament game

March 01, 1997|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After yesterday's 60-52 overtime loss to Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, the Maryland women's basketball team is living testimony to the saying that those who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat its failures.

For the second time in three weeks, the Terps frittered away a second-half lead to the 25th-ranked Blue Devils, lost their composure and let Duke escape.

In this case, fourth-seeded Maryland (18-9) held off one Duke comeback to take a four-point lead with 1: 41 to go, only to see Blue Devils senior guard Kira Orr make a free throw, then sink a three-pointer with 30 seconds to go in regulation to force overtime.

The Blue Devils (18-9), the tournament's fifth seed, scored the first eight points of the extra session, and never looked back.

"Obviously, we're very disappointed. We should have put the game away in regulation instead of it going to overtime," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "We played a good team. We split the regular-season games and then went into overtime here. I just hope our season will continue."

That's a reference to Maryland's NCAA tournament hopes, which seem to shift from precarious to secure from game to game.

The Terps finished 9-7 in the ACC in the regular season, in a three-way tie with Duke and North Carolina State in what is believed to be the second-best women's conference. In addition, Maryland was ranked 30th in the latest women's Rating Percentage Index, but with only 34 at-large bids available, there will be a week of nervousness until the 64-team draw is announced next Sunday.

"[We'll be] very anxious," said sophomore guard Kim Bretz.

"In life, nothing is a sure thing. Until they say we're in, we're not in," said Weller. "I'm one of the coaches that believes the ACC should get a number of teams in, but we don't vote."

Just as they had in Durham two weeks ago, the Terps seized control midway through the second half. Bretz, Maryland's leading scorer with 14 points, hit a leaning jumper in the lane, was fouled and sank a free throw to give Maryland a 38-32 lead with 11: 38 to go.

After a Duke timeout, the teams exchanged turnovers, then Blue Devils coach Gail Goestenkors was hit with a technical foul for protesting a foul call against forward Tye Hall. Bretz missed the two free throws, then, on the ensuing possession, Maryland's Sonia Chase turned the ball over.

Duke's Hilary Howard hit a three from the right wing, then Stephanie Cross was called for traveling. Blue Devils reserve Nazrawit Medhanie buried another three from nearly the same spot as Howard to tie the score. Weller called a 20-second timeout, but the damage had been done.

"We just did not do a good job in overtime containing Orr and Howard. That's a struggle for anyone. When they hit those back-to-back threes, it changed the complexion of the game," said Weller.

Said Goestenkors: "I kept waiting for us to hit our shots and, once we did, everything opened up for us."

From that point, the Terps played back on their heels, staying in a 2-3 zone, which had caught Duke off guard early on. However, once the Blue Devils' guards began hitting, Weller kept Maryland in the zone on defense.

"They're stronger than we are inside," said Weller. "I'd rather have them beat us from the outside than in high-low. Every time we went to 'man', they went right inside and they were hurting us in man. Their post players got a look at the basket and they converted."

The loss marked the third straight year that Maryland, which has won a record eight tournaments, has failed to reach the semifinals.

In other tournament action, top-seeded and No. 5 North Carolina advanced to the semifinals with an 86-60 pounding of eighth-seeded Wake Forest. No. 13 Virginia, the tournament's second seed, topped Georgia Tech, 77-63, and sixth-seeded and 22nd-ranked Clemson knocked off third seed North Carolina State, 87-75.

Pub Date: 3/01/97

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