With future bright, UM women say it'll be their time to shine

With solid recruiting class, Terps look to build off of another tournament berth

College Basketball

March 24, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The redness around Shay Doron's eyes spoke volumes about the pain welling up inside.

Less than 30 minutes after the seventh-seeded Maryland women's basketball team's season came to a halt in a 75-65 loss to second-seeded Ohio State in a second-round game of the NCAA tournament's Philadelphia Regional late Tuesday night, Doron, the Terps' gifted shooting guard, acknowledged that ending the year this early wasn't part of the game plan.

"This year's team is one of the best teams I've ever been on -- personality-wise and basketball-wise," the sophomore said. "It's just a shame to see it end right now. That's what hurts the most right now -- the fact that this team is never going to play together again."

Once the pain subsides, Maryland can look forward to a future filled with hope and optimism.

The Terps will say goodbye to graduating seniors Anesia Smith and Liz Gilchrest, but only Smith played substantial minutes as the team's starting point guard.

The remaining 10 players, including four starters, should return and the lineup could receive a significant boost if freshman forward Laura Harper can recover from the ruptured left Achilles' tendon that forced her to miss the last 22 games of the season.

Throw in two high school All-America players that make up the nation's No. 4 recruiting class, and the ingredients for continued success are there for Maryland coach Brenda Frese to mix and mold.

"The program continues to keep getting stronger and stronger," she said. "You can see the progression and where we're headed. Getting Laura Harper back is almost like getting another recruit, and then you add another top-5 recruiting class. I just think it's another year of building."

Said Ohio State coach Jim Foster of the Terps: "I think they are a quality basketball team. They have become one of those teams in the conversation when you talk about parity."

Maryland has improved every year since Frese took over for the 2002-03 season in which the team finished 10-18. Since then, the Terps have gone 18-13 last season and 22-10 this season and earned NCAA tournament wins in back-to-back years for the first time in 15 years.

Although the Terps went just 3-5 against ranked opponents -- including three losses to Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke -- they upset then-No. 5 North Carolina during the regular season and took out No. 19 North Carolina State to advance to the ACC tournament semifinals.

Another highlight was setting an ACC single-game attendance record of 17,243, which eclipsed the previous mark of 14,500 when Virginia visited Maryland in 1992.

Doron, who led the team in scoring with 17.6 points a game, was named to the All-ACC first team.

Freshman Crystal Langhorne, the ACC Rookie of the Year, averaged 17.2 points and 10.6 rebounds a game and tied former Terp Vicky Bullett for the single-season record of 18 double doubles.

What could push Maryland into the upper echelon of programs is the rehabilitation of Harper, who was the team's third-leading scorer and the ACC's leading rebounder before the injury on Dec. 27, and the development of All-America selections Marissa Coleman, a 6-foot-1 guard from St. John's (D.C.), and Kristi Toliver, a 5-foot-8 point guard from Harrisonburg, Va.

It's enough to make sophomore guard Kalika France feel a little bit giddy about beginning practice in October.

"I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what's going to take place next season," France said. "I knew that with the freshmen getting the experience they got and myself and Shay and Aurelie [Noirez, a sophomore center] getting the experience that we got during our freshman and sophomore years, that can only help us. Hopefully, the freshmen will come in and make a smooth transition. We have the potential to be a great ball team."

Box score

Tuesday's late game

Ohio State 75, Maryland 65

MARYLAND -- Langhorne 9-19 4-6 22, Perry 0-4 0-0 0, Doron 3-15 1-2 9, France 5-8 0-0 12, Smith 2-5 0-0 4, Newman 5-10 0-2 12, Carr 0-0 0-0 0, Henson 0-0 0-0 0, Noirez 3-6 0-0 6. Totals 27-67 5-10 65.

OHIO STATE -- Blanton 5-6 1-2 12, Davenport 5-13 5-9 15, Hoskins 10-15 2-2 22, Allen 3-7 0-0 8, Matter 6-10 1-2 16, Wilburn 0-2 0-0 0, Battle 0-1 0-0 0, Packer 1-2 0-0 2, Jamen 0-1 0-2 0, Riley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-58 9-17 75.

Halftime--Ohio State, 35-34. 3-point goals--Maryland 6-15 (Smith 2-2, Newman 2-5, Doron 2-7, Langhorne 0-1), Ohio State 6-11 (Matter 3-5, Allen 2-3, Blanton 1-1, Hoskins 0-1, Packer 0-1). Rebounds--Maryland 36 (Langhorne 16), Ohio State 39 (Davenport 9). Assists--Maryland 12 (Smith 4), Ohio State 22 (Allen 8). Total fouls--Maryland 15, Ohio State 11. A--4,062.

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