UM women have eyes on Tigers, Sweet 16

Confident Terps hope balance on offense offsets LSU's up-tempo attack

College Basketball

March 23, 2004|By Robin Fambrough | Robin Fambrough,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BATON ROUGE, La. - As her team approaches tonight's NCAA tournament second-round game, Maryland coach Brenda Frese can sum up her feelings in four words.

Don't count Maryland out.

After ousting fifth-seeded Miami, 86-85, in Sunday's first round, the 12th-seeded Terrapins (18-12) have set their sights on the host team, fourth-seeded LSU (24-7). Game time is set for 9 p.m. at LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

"We're obviously very excited to be up here today," Frese said at the start of yesterday's news conference. "It means we survived, and we're extremely excited to be playing another day.

"We're just continuing to take it one day and one practice at a time like we have all year. Right now we're playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. I really believe every time we step on the floor great things are going to happen for us."

Based on Sunday's win over Miami, it is easy to understand Frese's attitude. Maryland trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half before coming back to oust a Miami team that had beaten the Terrapins by 31 points a season earlier.

Maryland displayed outstanding balance on offense. Post players Crystal Washington and Delvona Oliver each scored 22 points. Freshmen guards Shay Doron and Kalika France added 19 and 16 points, respectively, as the Terrapins claimed the school's first NCAA victory since 1992. Chrissy Fisher had 10 rebounds for Maryland.

LSU advanced with an 83-66 win over 13th-seeded Austin Peay. Seimone Augustus scored 21 points for the Tigers, who finished second to Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference standings and lost to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament semifinals. Temeka Johnson added 17 points and 12 assists, and Hanna Biernacka had 13 points.

The notion of beating an LSU team that is ranked 19th and features an All-American candidate in Augustus and a veteran guard in Johnson is something Frese and her players say they believe is possible.

When a reporter suggested that LSU might remind some of top-ranked Duke, a team Maryland lost to by seven points in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, France opted to make another comparison.

"I'm comparing LSU to Florida State," France said. "I've yet to see that [comparison to Duke] in them. Seimone Augustus is definitely a great player and she'll bring her A game against us. But we're going to bring our A game."

Frese said she sees the Tigers as a combination of Duke and Florida State. The second-year coach said the Terrapins will have to once again play a great inside-out game, utilizing post players and guards in order to be successful.

The fact that LSU starts no player taller than 6-foot-1 and could have matchup problems with Oliver (6-3) and Washington (6-2) is something Frese acknowledged. And so did acting LSU coach Dana "Pokey" Chatman, who is 12-3 in place of veteran head coach Sue Gunter, who's on a medical leave of absence because of acute bronchitis.

Chatman has challenged her team to take away its opponent's strengths in past contests, referring to the tactic as "taking off the head of the snake."

"How many people are on their roster?" Chatman asked yesterday. "That's how many heads the snake has. They can attack you from outside or inside. I don't know that you can concentrate on just one player."

Controlling the tempo of the game will also be crucial for the Tigers, who prefer a fast-paced game in which Johnson and Augustus can create offense in the open court.

"We just have to stay aggressive," Augustus said. "Coach told us we may see a combination of defenses. We have to recognize that and get the ball to the post players or whoever is open."

Doron comes off the bench to lead Maryland in scoring with a 13.2 average. France (11.8) and Oliver (11.0) are next. Augustus leads LSU with an 18.7 scoring average.

"I like the confidence this team is playing with," Frese said. "I believe in them and they believe in themselves."

Terps women tonight

NCAA tournament second round: Maryland (18-12) vs. LSU (24-7) in West Regional

Seeds: Maryland, No. 12; LSU, No. 4.

Site: Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, La.

Time: 9

TV: ESPN

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