COLLEGE PARK - Maryland women's basketball coach Brenda Frese was looking for three things out of yesterday's matinee against visiting Duke: a record-setting attendance for an Atlantic Coast Conference game, national recognition and a win.
Two out of three isn't bad, but the most critical element - the victory - eluded the No. 19 Terps as they fell to the No. 3 Blue Devils, 60-49, at Comcast Center.
Broadcast on ESPN2, the game drew 17,243 fans, breaking the previous ACC single-game attendance record of 14,500 set when Virginia visited Maryland in 1992.
The attention and crowd were nice, but they were not the ultimate goal for Frese.
"Obviously, it says a lot about our fans and the support," said Frese, who watched the Terps' four-game winning streak end. "Obviously, we're disappointed about the outcome. I'm proud of the fact we never quit and played hard for 40 minutes. ... I think we showed our youth tonight."
The Blue Devils (23-2 overall, 9-1 ACC), who have won the past 11 meetings with Maryland, have turned College Park into a second home away from Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke has won seven straight here and hasn't lost to the Terps since Feb. 3, 2000.
Yesterday, Maryland (17-6, 6-5), which had converted 50.2 percent (125 of 249) of its field-goal attempts during its winning streak, shot 33.8 percent (23 of 68) - its second-lowest mark of the season.
Sophomore guards Shay Doron and Kalika France scored 18 and 13 points, respectively, to lead the Terps, but the duo connected on just 14 of 35 shots. The rest of the team missed 24 of 33 attempts.
"The past few games, what's been making us successful is the extra pass that we were making, and I don't think we did that tonight," said Doron, who had six rebounds and three assists against six turnovers. "We need to get back to that."
Another problem was the Blue Devils' strategy of containing Maryland freshman center Crystal Langhorne. Averaging 16.0 points, the 6-foot-3 Langhorne finished with just eight points - including just two in the second half - and was frequently fronted by a rotation of 6-foot-7 sophomore Alison Bales, 6-5 freshman Chante Black, 6-3 junior Mistie Williams and 6-2 senior Wynter Whitley.
"We talked a lot at halftime about getting the ball into Crystal's hands, and obviously, we didn't follow through with that execution very well," Frese said. "A lot of that had to do with their defense. They were sagging off our point guard and making it very difficult to get the ball inside."
The Terps made just one of six free throws, all of which came in the first half. By comparison, Duke converted 15 of 19 foul shots. Junior forward Monique Currie, who has two stress fractures in her left foot, made eight of 11 free throws to lead the Blue Devils with 14 points.
And Maryland's bench, which had averaged 22.5 points in the previous four games, posted just two against Duke. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, received 11 points from Whitley and eight points and four blocks from Black to win the bench-points battle, 19-2.
Whitley "was the X-factor in my opinion," Frese said, acknowledging that the game plan involved leaving Whitley open to double-team other players. "We end up losing by 11, and she scores 11. She gave them some big minutes and some big plays."
Trailing 27-23 at halftime, the Terps scored the first nine points of the second half to assume their biggest lead of the game at 32-27.
But Maryland went cold, missing its next seven attempts from the field. Duke, which went 0-for-8 in the first 5:14 of the second half, scored 10 unanswered points to regain the advantage at 37-32.
The Terps scored six of the next eight points to trim the deficit to one, but the Blue Devils went on a 10-2 run to put the game out of reach.