LSU no obstacle for Terps

Maryland wins Preseason WNIT behind Toliver

No. 3 Maryland 75 No. 4 LSU 62

November 19, 2007|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN REPORTER

COLLEGE PARK -- LSU women's basketball coach Van Chancellor was late coming into the press room after yesterday's game against Maryland, and he didn't want to stick around long once he arrived. And after the 75-62 decision the third-ranked Terps hung on the No. 4 Lady Tigers to win the Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament, who could blame Chancellor for wanting a quick exit?

The Terps (5-0) were impressive defensively, holding LSU to 33 percent shooting, while taking an All-America center out of her comfort zone for the second time in eight days and making a claim that, off a week where they beat two top-10 opponents and another ranked team, they could be considered the best team in the country.

"I'm just going to take one day at a time," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "But I love where our team's at and where our focus is at. I love that in these first five games that we've played teams that are going to help make us better. At the end of the day, I don't care to be voted No. 1 right now. It's all about being one at the end. It's a journey. It's a process, and that's really what we're about."

In that process, Maryland, heretofore not known as a strong defensive team, kept LSU's All-America center, 6-foot-7 senior Sylvia Fowles, at bay. Fowles did have a game-high 24 points and 13 rebounds, but she had to work for everything she got.

The Terps blanketed Fowles first with senior Laura Harper, and when Harper picked up her second foul with 8:23 left in the first half, Frese turned to senior reserve Jade Perry, who used her size and strength to root Fowles out of the low post, where she is dominant.

"Sylvia wore me out," said Perry, who has started four of Maryland's five games this season for senior All-American Crystal Langhorne, who is nursing an ankle sprain and didn't play yesterday. "She's about 6-foot-7 and really strong, compared to me. I'm 5-foot-10 on a good day, and I was down there battling against her."

Said Fowles: "I did a poor job of finishing around the basket, but they did make it tough getting a good post and sealing in the box. Everything else was sluggish on our behalf."

Perry, who battled Oklahoma's Courtney Paris in last week's 10-point win over the then-No. 6 Sooners, had 14 points and 11 rebounds - seven on the offensive end.

Meanwhile, junior guard Kristi Toliver, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, played her role to the hilt, with 23 points and seven assists, the fifth straight game she has had at least 16 points and at least seven assists. That effort prompted Chancellor, who won four WNBA titles with the Houston Comets before taking over LSU (3-1) this year, to compare her to former Connecticut great Diana Taurasi.

"She doesn't quite have her range, but she has the ability to score against pressure," Chancellor said. "What grade is she? A junior? Oh, Lord, we're not scheduling them next year."

The Terps bounded out of the blocks, taking a 10-point lead in the first half, before the Lady Tigers made a run behind Fowles and senior Quianna Chaney, who had 23 points, to trail by two at halftime.

LSU took the lead briefly twice early in the second half before Maryland settled the deal with a 16-1 run to open a 13-point lead with 13 minutes to go and to seal their first win over a top-five opponent in College Park since a 92-77 victory over then-No. 5 North Carolina on Jan. 9, 2005.

milton.kent@baltsun.com

LSU-Thomas 0-7 1-2 1, Fowles 10-20 4-6 24, White 1-6 1-2 3, LeBlanc 3-7 0-0 7, Chaney 9-22 1-2 23, Hightower 1-8 0-0 2, Whitfield 0-1 0-0 0, M.Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Morris 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 25-75 7-12 62. MARYLAND-Coleman 2-11 4-5 8, Perry 6-9 2-5 14, Harper 6-10 4-6 16, Strickland 3-4 2-2 11, Toliver 9-18 4-4 23, Newman 1-2 0-0 3, Mingo 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 27-56 16-22 75. Half-Maryland 34-32. 3-point goals-LSU 5-25 (Chaney 4-12, LeBlanc 1-5, Thomas 0-2, White 0-3, Hightower 0-3), Maryland 5-14 (Strickland 3-3, Newman 1-2, Toliver 1-5, Mingo 0-1, Coleman 0-3). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-LSU 34 (Fowles 13), Maryland 50 (Coleman, Perry 11). Assists-LSU 17 (White 6), Maryland 15 (Toliver 7). Total fouls-LSU 16, Maryland 14. A-6,398.

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