UM women hold on to early advantage

Terps win, but allow Arizona to cut 29-point lead in half

Maryland 75 Arizona 61

November 19, 2006|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- Just as big Thanksgiving dinners can make the diner a bit drowsy an hour or so after consumption, so have big first-half leads tended to make the top-ranked Maryland women's basketball team a bit sluggish in the second halves of games this year.

So when the Terps took a 26-point lead midway through the first half against Arizona yesterday in the second game of the BTI Classic, the question wasn't so much whether they would win, but rather if they could maintain their focus and intensity in the second half.

As they had Friday night against Texas Christian, the Terps once again nodded off in the second half, this time permitting the Wildcats to shave a 29-point deficit in half, before winning, 75-61, before 6,235 at Comcast Center.

Maryland (4-0), which led 68-39 with about nine minutes to go, slogged it out down the stretch as coach Brenda Frese attempted to mix and match players from her nine-player roster, with less than savory results.

"We tried a lot of different combinations this game that were different from the last game," said Frese, who played collegiately at Arizona. "You have to go back and look at film, but I thought Arizona increased their intensity where we really took a step back. We got too comfortable and too loose in terms of what we were doing."

The Terps shot 40 percent from the field in the second half yesterday, a slight improvement from Friday night, when they shot 32 percent in the second half. However, Arizona (1-2) shot 52 percent from the field in the second half yesterday and outscored Maryland by six after intermission.

The Terps will face their most highly regarded opponent of the season, George Washington (4-0), ranked No. 25 in the coaches' poll, in today's finale of the three-game round robin. The Colonials, like Maryland, haven't played especially well this weekend, but have won twice, beating Arizona on Friday and TCU, 82-77, yesterday.

"It [GW] is a huge game," said junior forward Laura Harper, who had 14 points and six rebounds. "We're not satisfied with the way we've been playing for two games, so [today] will be really big, proving something for us. We're playing three games in three days, so we're trying to see how we can fight through fatigue."

The Wildcats scored on their first possession, then didn't connect on their next nine trips, a sequence covering nearly eight minutes. There aren't many teams that can stay competitive with that kind of offensive drought, and even fewer can do it on the road against the nation's top-ranked team, especially when it's shooting 65 percent as the Terps were during that stretch.

"We put ourselves in the hole early," Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini said. "We tried to shoot quick and they took advantage of every opportunity. Finally, we were able to regroup and settle down and play a whole lot better. But they're a great basketball team with a lot of weapons."

One of those weapons, sophomore forward Marissa Coleman, who suffered a bruised tailbone early in Friday's win over TCU, was held out of the starting lineup yesterday, but played 23 minutes, scoring five points.

Junior Ashleigh Newman, who started for Coleman, led all Maryland scorers with 17 points, and had a team-high eight rebounds.

milton.kent@baltsun.com

ARIZONA-Njonkou 1-2 0-0 2, S.Bofia 4-9 0-2 8, Whisonant 3-5 2-2 8, Arnold 0-2 0-0 0, Hollingsworth 9-20 2-3 22, Burns 1-2 0-0 3, Fields 0-1 0-0 0, Rhe.Neabors 1-5 1-3 3, Rha.Neabors 0-1 0-0 0, O'Neal 5-5 1-2 11, Hobson 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 26-56 6-12 61. MARYLAND-Harper 5-9 4-5 14, Langhorne 5-6 1-4 11, Toliver 1-7 6-6 9, Newman 6-10 2-3 17, Doron 4-10 1-1 10, Marrone 1-5 0-0 2, Coleman 2-6 0-0 5, Noirez 2-3 0-0 4, Perry 1-3 1-1 3. Totals 27-59 15-20 75. Halftime-Maryland, 48-28. 3-point goals-Arizona 3-12 (Hollingsworth 2-8, Burns 1-1, Arnold 0-1, Rhe.Neabors 0-2), Maryland 6-19 (Newman 3-5, Doron 1-3, Toliver 1-3, Coleman 1-4, Marrone 0-4). Rebounds-Arizona 27 (S.Bofia 6), Maryland 42 (Newman 8). Assists-Arizona 10 (O'Neal 3), Maryland 19 (Toliver 6). Total fouls-Arizona 20, Maryland 14. A-6,235.

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