Balanced Terps wash away Hartford in Dial Classic Maryland takes 70-50 win to advance to today's final vs. Howard, a 78-61 winner

December 14, 1997|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland women's basketball team forced 22 turnovers and four of its players scored in double figures yesterday in a 70-50 win over Hartford in the first round of the Dial Classic at Cole Field House.

Stephanie Cross led the Terrapins (6-2) with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Kelley Gibson and Sonia Chase scored 16 apiece and Kalisa Davis scored 14.

The win allows Maryland to advance to today's 4 p.m. championship game against Howard, which prevailed over Mississippi Valley State, 78-61.

It also gave Maryland the experience of playing as a favorite, a role that the Terps haven't played in a while, one that coach Chris Weller anticipates her team playing more often in the future.

"This team has been in the position of taking the underdog role," Weller said.

"I think we're ready -- when we get healthy -- to take on the role of the ranked team that people are trying to knock off. It's a different kind of challenge."

Gibson -- who also had seven assists, six rebounds and five steals -- was one of three Marylanders to score in double figures in the first half, hitting a three-pointer with two seconds left to give the Terps a 39-25 lead at halftime.

But Maryland started slow and a three-pointer by Ivnik -- the Hawks' tallest player at 5-foot-11 -- gave Hartford an 8-3 lead with 17: 05 left.

However, Hartford scored only two points over the next five minutes, and a basket by Cross gave Maryland a 14-10 lead.

The Hawks suffered another extended drought that left them with an eight-point deficit at 20-12 after Kalisa Davis scored with 8: 02 left in the half.

Maryland opened a 10-point lead at 26-16 on a pull-up jumper by Chase with 5: 18 left. Then, a basket by Gibson gave Maryland a 15-point lead, at 33-18, with 3: 20 left to go.

Cross, Chase and Gibson combined for 33 of Maryland's 39 first-half points as the Terps led by 14 points at halftime.

Cross also had eight rebounds, as Maryland out-rebounded Hartford, 24-14. Hartford also allowed Maryland to get 10 rebounds on the offensive end.

In the second half, Ivnik scored eight points early and a turnaround jumper by Tiffany Rutledge put Hartford within eight at 46-38 with 14: 54 remaining.

Gibson, Cross and Chase struck again, however, scoring the next eight points to help Maryland take a 54-40 lead with 9: 37 left in the game.

Maryland eventually pushed the lead to 20 when Davis scored an inside basket with 5: 32 left in the game.

In the other first-round game, Howard (3-1) cruised past Mississippi Valley State (3-3), which struggled offensively in the first half, shooting only 22.2 percent from the field.

Down 40-21 at the half, Mississippi Valley State opened with a 12-2 run to get within 42-31 with 15: 41 left, but could get no closer.

Pub Date: 12/14/97

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