UM's win worth shouting about

acc semifinal no. 4 maryland 95, no. 11 north carolina 84

Terps oust Tar Heels, will go for first conference tournament title since 1989

March 08, 2009|By Camille Powell | Camille Powell,The Washington Post

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Twenty minutes before their Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal game against fourth seed North Carolina was set to begin yesterday afternoon, the top-seeded Maryland women ran onto the floor at Greensboro Coliseum, looped around the warming-up Tar Heels, and then gathered at midcourt. The Terrapins scuffed their feet, their shoes squeaking, on the ACC logo.

They were borrowing the pre-game ritual of one of their most loyal supporters, NFL running back LaMont Jordan. In a pep talk at breakfast, the former Maryland standout told the players how he used to go to the 50-yard line and scuff his feet, as if he were marking his territory.

"So we decided, how about we go to midcourt and mark our territory?" senior Kristi Toliver said. "To us, this isn't Carolina's tournament. This is our tournament."

That swagger that the Terps brought into the game never left them, as they withstood several Tar Heels runs in a physical, fast-paced 95-84 victory that put them in the championship game. Maryland will try to win it for the first time since 1989 and take the one prize that has eluded Toliver and fellow All-ACC senior Marissa Coleman. The Terps (27-4) will face third seed Duke (26-4) at 1 p.m. today. The Blue Devils defeated Florida State, 75-57, in the other semifinal.

"This team is on a mission," said Coleman, who scored a game-high 29 points and played the final five minutes with four fouls.

North Carolina (26-6) has dominated this tournament, particularly when it has been held in Greensboro, less than an hour's drive from its campus. The Tar Heels had advanced to the final in eight of the previous nine tournaments held here, and they won the past four titles. In two of the past three years, North Carolina knocked Maryland out of the tournament.

But the Terps, winners of 10 straight, came into the game brimming with confidence and brought a sizable group of red-clad fans in the stands who tried to match the enthusiasm of the Tar Heels' supporters.

When Lynetta Kizer (15 points) made a layup with 17:34 left, Maryland led 52-40.

North Carolina rallied behind Italee Lucas (26 points), Jessica Breland (23) and Rashanda McCants (18).

"It was definitely a game of runs," said Toliver, who scored 13 of her 25 points from the free-throw line. "When they came back on us, we knew that our offense is so good that we were going to get it back."

After Lucas made a free throw following a steal to give the Tar Heels a 63-61 edge, the Terps scored 11 straight points. On one possession, Toliver found Coleman on the wing, and she calmly converted a three-pointer before strutting down the court.


NO. 4 MARYLAND (27-4) VS. NO. 8 DUKE (26-4)

Today, 1 p.m., Greensboro, N.C.

TV: Comcast SportsNet-Plus

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