No. 18 Maryland women beat No. 17 St. John's, 66-60, to take Terrapin Classic

Tchatchouang selected MVP after scoring 19 points

December 29, 2010|By Kathy Orton, The Washington Post

As Maryland kept winning games, it was unclear what to make of the No. 18 Terrapins. Were they good, or were they just superior to their level of competition? After all, none of the teams they beat during their 10-game winning streak — except for their victory over Purdue — was from a major conference.

If Wednesday's 66-60 win against No. 17 St. John's at Comcast Center is any indication, Maryland is starting to regain the confidence it lost after last season's disappointing outcome. The Terrapins' youth showed at times with too many turnovers and unnecessary fouls, but in the end Maryland displayed grit and determination to pull out the victory.

"We were tested today, and it was great to be able to see just how we battled," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I thought we got better. … Just a great, solid win for us."

Diandra Tchatchouang was selected the Most Valuable Player of the Terrapin Classic after she had 19 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots Wednesday. Lynetta Kizer, who scored her 1,000th career point in the game and finished with 13 points, was chosen to the all-tournament team.

Maryland's only loss this season was to another Big East team, Georgetown, and the Terrapins' performance against St. John's showed just how far they had come since that game — and how far they still have to go.

After winning games by double-digit margins of victory, Maryland (12-1) struggled to build a lead against St. John's (12-2) even though the Red Storm missed its first 13 shot attempts and didn't make a field goal until midway through the first half.

The Terrapins also were having their own difficulties putting the ball in the basket. While Maryland uses its size to bother opponents, St. John's causes teams problems with its quickness. Between the Terrapins' four blocked shots in the first 12 1/2 minutes and the Red Storm's forcing Maryland into turnovers on three consecutive possessions, neither team was having much success offensively.

When all-tournament selection Da'Shena Stevens's jump shot finally fell for St. John's, ending her team's field goal drought, Maryland held just an 11-7 lead. Amanda Burakoski's 3-pointer 5 1/2 minutes later tied the score at 20.

"I thought defensively it was really hard to score because everybody had such great intensity to start the game," Frese said.

Despite its talent, Maryland lets its youthful inexperience get the best of it at times. Many of the Terrapins' 19 turnovers were more a result of their own carelessness than the St. John's defense. And when her team became scattered against the Red Storm, Frese turned to Tchatchouang and Kim Rodgers. Nothing seems to rattle Tchatchouang, a serene sophomore forward, or Rodgers, an unflappable junior guard.

When no one else could make a basket, Tchatchouang was sinking shot after shot, scoring 15 of her points in the first half. When the Terrapins were throwing the ball all over the court, Rodgers — who didn't have a turnover in 25 minutes of action — settled them down.

"They were our calming influence," Frese said.

After building an 18-point second half lead with eight minutes to play, Maryland stopped playing with the intensity it had showed early in the game and St. John's took advantage. The Red Storm cut the Terrapins' lead to 65-60 with 18 seconds to play before running out of time.

St. John's also was the first team to outrebound Maryland this season, grabbing two more rebounds than the Terrapins.

"To have them come in here and outrebound us is very disappointing," Kizer said.

Nonetheless, this win certainly showed a lot about the Terrapins.

"I think as we progress, we're letting everybody know, anybody who doubts, that we have a good team," Rodgers said. "That we're here to play, we're here to compete this year."

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