Terps avenge loss to Ga. Tech

Langhorne, Coleman combine for 34 in quarterfinal

No. 4 UNC up next

No. 6 Maryland 75 Georgia Tech 59

March 03, 2007|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun reporter

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Whatever might happen with the sixth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team from now through the end of this season could be filed under the category of going about the business of defending last year's national championship.

But when Maryland center Laura Harper stuffed back-to-back shots from Georgia Tech guard Stephanie Higgs late in the first half of last night's 75-59 win in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, then talked to Higgs on their trip back up the floor, the message got through loud and clear:

This was not business. It was strictly personal.

"I just wanted to let her know there was a presence there," said Harper, a 6-foot-4 junior, who had eight points, eight rebounds and five blocks. "She attacked and pretty much exploited us the last time. If she thought she was going to get all the boards and all the put-backs, I was telling her `No, it's not happening tonight. This is the ACC tournament. Congratulations for beating us in the regular season, but when it's time to play and stuff is on the line, we don't play that stuff.' "

Indeed, Higgs, who had 16 points last night, torched Maryland for 26 in the Yellow Jackets' 77-72 upset of the Terps in Atlanta a month ago, a loss that came four days after the Terps lost at home to North Carolina.

"I've never been so angry in college than I was after we lost to Georgia Tech," junior forward Crystal Langhorne said. "As a team, we were just so excited that we were able to play them [in the ACC tournament]. We knew we were going to come out with a lot of energy."

The Terps (27-4) played perhaps their best all-around game in nearly two months, running a crisp offense and connecting on 59 percent of their shots from the field.

Defensively, Maryland suffocated the Yellow Jackets, harassing and hectoring Georgia Tech (20-11) all over the floor. The Yellow Jackets shot 33 percent from the field.

"First and foremost, we have players in our locker room with a lot of character and a lot of heart," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "They are tremendous competitors. We definitely took that game at Georgia Tech to heart. We didn't want to feel that way again. I thought every player stepped up and did what they needed to do to the best of their abilities [last night]."

Langhorne, named to the first team All-ACC squad for a second straight year, was dominant down low, with 18 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes. Sophomore Marissa Coleman, a second-team All-ACC performer for the second time, had 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Maryland, which occasionally has played passively, looked content to brawl with the Yellow Jackets, playing as physical a brand of basketball as they have played all year. Unlike the game in Atlanta, where Georgia Tech went to the foul line 44 times and Coleman and Kristi Toliver fouled out, the Terps played with a measure of intelligent aggressiveness. They out-rebounded Tech, 46-21, and went to the free-throw line 23 times to only 13 for the Yellow Jackets.

"We knew Maryland was going to come after us and be physical out there," Higgs said. "I thought we did a good job of being physical back, I mean, it's just part of the ACC. It's part of basketball."

That willingness to go toe-to-toe likely will come in handy during today's semifinal game, as the Terps meet second-seeded North Carolina (27-3), which thrashed Virginia Tech, 90-60, in a quarterfinal game yesterday.

Though the Terps have split their last four meetings with the Tar Heels, North Carolina has the most recent victory - an 84-71 decision at Comcast Center on Jan. 28 before a sellout crowd.

Today's game might not carry the same sort of blood feud for Maryland as last night's game did, but the Terps would be more than content with a similar outcome.

"Coming into the tournament, our coaching staff stressed that if we played 40 minutes, we were going to be able to seek revenge on all three teams that handed us losses this year," Coleman said. "We beat Georgia Tech [last night], and we're very anxious to play Carolina and play another complete 40-minute game."

milton.kent@baltsun.com

GEORGIA TECH-J.Mitchell 5-14 4-5 14, Ardossi 3-5 5-6 11, Ja.Williams 1-7 0-0 2, Higgs 6-21 2-2 16, Nnamaka 5-13 0-0 12, Ingram 0-2 0-0 0, Turner 0-1 0-0 0, Wilson 2-4 0-0 4, Blackmon 0-0 0-0 0, D.Mitchell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-67 11-13 59. MARYLAND-Langhorne 8-12 2-3 18, Harper 2-2 4-6 8, Toliver 6-9 0-0 12, Doron 3-7 2-2 8, Coleman 7-10 1-1 16, Wiley-Gatewood 2-3 5-6 9, Newman 1-2 2-4 4, Noirez 0-0 0-0 0, Perry 0-4 0-1 0. Totals 29-49 16-23 75. Half-Maryland, 40-26. 3-point poals-Georgia Tech 4-15 (Higgs 2-6, Nnamaka 2-7, Wilson 0-1, J.Mitchell 0-1), Maryland 1-6 (Coleman 1-2, Doron 0-1, Wiley-Gatewood 0-1, Toliver 0-1, Newman 0-1). Fouled out-Ja.Williams. Rebounds-Georgia Tech 21 (J.Mitchell 5), Maryland 46 (Coleman 11). Assists-Georgia Tech 8 (Higgs, Ingram, Ja.Williams 2), Maryland 15 (Toliver 4). Total fouls-Georgia Tech 22, Maryland 17. A-10,036.

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