University Park, Pa. -- If the Maryland women's basketball team is looking for a reason as to how it advanced to its first Sweet 16 in 14 years, the Terps need look no further than Crystal Langhorne.
The sophomore center scored a game-high 30 points - including the final two field goals - to lift Maryland to an 81-74 victory over St. John's in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Bryce Jordan Center last night.
The Terps (30-4), the No. 3 team in the country and the No. 2 seed in the Albuquerque Regional, will meet Baylor (26-6), the defending national champion and No. 3 seed, on Saturday.
Maryland might have made its third consecutive exit in the second round if not for the play of Langhorne, the team's lone All- Atlantic Coast Conference first-team selection.
Langhorne, who made 11 of 16 shots from the floor and sank eight of 10 free throws, scored 18 of her 30 points in the second half, including the final two baskets of the game.
Those field goals gave the Terps a 76-72 lead with about a minute left and forced the seventh-seeded Red Storm (22-8) to resort to fouling Maryland to stop the clock. The Terps converted five of six free throws to clinch the win.
Asked if she was demanding the ball more down the stretch, Langhorne - who also pulled down eight offensive rebounds - an swered, "Yes, I was. The coaches told me to call for the ball. I think my teammates were giving me the ball in the right places."
Said coach Brenda Frese: "I thought Crystal was spectacular. She made some big baskets and some big rebounds. She contin ues to put this team on her back."
Langhorne's performance offset an uncharacteristically poor night for Maryland, which committed 20 turnovers and shot just 22.2 percent (4-for-18) from behind the three-point line.
Sophomore forward Laura Harper registered 15 points and five rebounds, while freshman forward Marissa Coleman posted 11 points and six rebounds, but the Terps' backcourt faltered.
Junior guard Shay Doron went 0-for-4 from the floor and made all nine of her points off free throws. Freshman point guard Kristi Toliver scored nine points on 4-for-15 shooting and although she handed out eight assists, she also committed a game-high six turnovers.
Red Storm junior point guard Kia Wright gave Maryland and Toliver fits. Wright, a transfer from Connecticut, scored a team-high 23 points off a variety of driving layups and pull-up jumpers.
With the Terps nursing a 35-34 lead at halftime, St. John's reversed the deficit in the second half with a 10-3 run to give the team its largest lead of the game at 44-38.
But Langhorne scored six points to spark an 11-5 Maryland burst to tie the score at 49.
The Terps weren't finished. After junior forward Angela Clark sank a jumper to give the Red Storm a 51-49 edge, Maryland scored six unanswered points to lead 55-51.
St. John's responded with a 10-4 run to reassume the lead at 61-59.
The Terps scored six consecutive points to regain the advantage, but the lead was short-lived as the Red Storm eventually tied the score at 72.
That's when Langhorne scored a layup. Two possessions later, she rebounded a missed shot and banked in a basket to give Mary land the four-point cushion it needed to win.
With St. John's opening the first half with five missed shots and three turnovers in its first seven possessions, the Terps took ad vantage with seven quick points.
With the score at 13-6 in Maryland's favor, however, the Red Storm put together a 9-0 run to assume the team's first lead at 15-13 with 11:34 left in the period.
The teams traded baskets for much of the half before the Terps went on a 6-2 burst near the end. Coleman made a steal and hit a mid-range jumper on the other end, Toliver nailed another jump er, and Langhorne converted a Toliver assist into a layup to help Maryland walk into the locker room at halftime with a 35-34 edge.
Turnovers were a problem for the Terps, who surrendered 14 - five from Langhorne and four from Toliver. St. John's took ad vantage by scoring 16 points off those miscues.