Terps women keep Duke close in semis

Maryland leads at half, but Blue Devils pull out 70-63 tournament victory

College Basketball

March 08, 2004|By Will Kimmey | Will Kimmey,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Maryland coach Brenda Frese said Saturday night that there wasn't a better time for her team to face Duke than yesterday in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball tournament.

She was right.

Frese's Terrapins showed confidence and poise in taking a halftime lead over the top-seeded Blue Devils, but Duke's experience and scoring power proved a little too much for Maryland down the stretch as it earned a 70-63 win at the Greensboro Coliseum.

"What a game," Frese said. "Like I told our team in the locker room: This team just refused to lose, and I can't say enough about how proud I am of this team leaving everything out there for 40 minutes."

Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said her senior-laden team was lucky to escape with the victory and advance to today's 7:30 p.m. final against North Carolina.

"I give tremendous praise to Brenda, her staff and her team because they played their hearts out and played hard enough to win," Goestenkors said.

Maryland (17-12) led by as many as eight points early in the second half; it used a combination of triangle-and-two, sagging zone and man-to-man defenses to force second-ranked Duke to settle for jump shots for the game's first 24 minutes.

But senior guard Alana Beard started slashing to the basket, and Duke (26-3) scored on nine straight possessions down the stretch. Beard, who did not get her first field goal until there were less than five minutes left in the first half, scored 16 of her game-high 21 points in the second half.

Duke took the lead for good with just under six minutes remaining as Beard drove and dished to Mistie Bass for a layup that made the score 54-53.

"I think the difference in the second half was, not just with me but the whole team in general, that we attacked," said Beard, who was named the ACC Player of the Year for the third straight season yesterday. "We ran a couple of plays that call for a screen on the ball, and in the first half we were just settling for the outside shot, where in the second half, we started to attack and get some easy scores."

Maryland missed its first seven shots to fall behind 7-0 before freshman guard Shay Doron came off the bench to score 14 of her team-best 19 points in the first half to get her team back in it. The Terrapins scored the final seven points of the half for a 29-27 lead.

At times in the second half, it looked as if Beard and Doron were in a game of one-on-one. Doron hit a three-pointer with Beard in her face, then Beard took Doron to the basket for a layup on the other end. The 5-foot-11 Beard backed down the 5-foot-9 Doron for jumpers in the paint, and Doron hit runners in the lane over Beard.

"She's a tough player to guard. She's obviously a lot stronger than me," Doron said. "I tried to focus on her on defense in the second half because I knew she was going to come out much more focused and try to take over the game - which she did."

Maryland has a 5-11 record in the ACC tournament since reaching the final in 1993, winning five opening-round games but never advancing deeper into the draw.

Still, it's been a solid season for Maryland. The Terrapins won eight conference games, doubling their total from the previous two seasons, and finished tied for third in the ACC after being picked to finish eighth in a preseason media poll. They went from 10 wins a year ago to 17 this season, the most for Maryland since 2000-01.

That year was also the last time the Terrapins made the NCAA tournament. Frese said she expected that drought to end in this, her second year at Maryland.

"There should be no doubt," she said. "To compete the way we did in a conference semifinal, these last four games we have really been rolling with a lot of confidence.

"To put ourselves in this position in our second year, to be able to compete with a team like Duke is very, very exciting for us."

No. 10 North Carolina 75, N.C. State 64: Freshmen Ivory Latta scored 27 and Camille Little added 24 to lift the second-seeded Tar Heels (24-5) past the Wolfpack (17-14).

Latta hit five three-pointers, and she and Little combined to shoot 18-for-30, while the rest of the Tar Heels shot just 5-for-19.

No. 2 Duke 70, Maryland 63

MARYLAND-Fisher 3-9 0-0 7, Oliver 5-11 4-5 15, Washington 2-5 5-5 9, France 4-17 1-1 9, Smith 1-5 0-0 2, Brick 0-0 0-0 0, Doron 6-15 4-5 19, Noirez 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 22-64 14-16 63. DUKE-Currie 6-11 4-4 16, Tillis 4-11 2-2 11, Bass 4-5 0-0 8, Harding 1-5 0-0 2, Beard 6-12 8-10 21, Krapohl 3-5 0-0 9, Foley 0-1 0-0 0, Hunter 1-7 1-4 3. Totals 25-57 15-20 70. Half: Maryland, 29-27. 3-point goals-Maryland 5-14 (Doron 3-6, Oliver 1-2, Fisher 1-3, France 0-3). Duke 5-14 (Krapohl 3-5, Tillis 1-4, Beard 1-4, Harding 0-1). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Maryland 38 (Oliver 8), Duke 37 (Tillis 8). Assists-Maryland 10 (Smith 4), Duke 14 (Harding 4). Total fouls-Maryland 13, Duke 14. A-na.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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