Toliver, Terps Top Feisty Dukes

Maryland's Kristi Toliver, left, defending Sarah Williams, makes one of her three steals; she added 27 points and 10 assists to carry the Terrapins.
Maryland's Kristi Toliver, left, defending Sarah Williams, makes one of her three steals; she added 27 points and 10 assists to carry the Terrapins. (By Rob Carr -- Associated Press)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 21, 2008

Kristi Toliver and Dawn Evans, a pair of dynamic, high-scoring guards, first met each other a year ago, after Toliver's Maryland team beat Evans's James Madison team in Harrisonburg, Va. They quickly became friends, and over the past several months, played pickup and one-on-one against each other.

There were times last night when 11th-ranked Maryland's 90-76 victory over James Madison seemed to be an extension of those summertime games for Toliver and Evans. One player would sink a tough three-pointer or make a nifty move, and the other would immediately follow with one of her own.

Evans, a sophomore, finished with a game-high 33 points on 14-of-33 shooting; Toliver, a senior, had 27 points and made 8 of 19 shots from the floor. Toliver's team, which had all five starters score in double figures, got the better result in front of 6,169 at Comcast Center.

"It was really fun playing against her and competing against her," said Toliver, who had 10 assists and three steals. "I'm glad that she played well, but more I'm glad that we won."

The Terrapins (2-1), who led by only one at halftime, put James Madison (1-1) away with a strong second-half performance. That was their best 20 minutes of the season: Maryland scored 55 points, shot 57.1 percent, handed out eight assists and committed just three turnovers.

Toliver, a preseason all-American, is better known nationally than Evans, who was named to the Colonial Athletic Association all-rookie team last season. She averaged 28.7 points in her past three games, dating back to last season.

Maryland rotated five different defenders on Evans, ranging from the 5-foot-7 Toliver to 6-1 Demauria Liles (16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks). Evans didn't seem to care; she scored off of quick, darting drives to the basket, and off of pull-up three-point shots.

On one possession in the first half, she crossed up Toliver with a back-and-forth dribble, and then calmly sank the first of the five three-pointers she made in the game. At the start of the second half, she scored seven of the Dukes' first nine points as they took a 44-43 lead with 17 minutes 28 seconds remaining.

"She plays extremely hard, is a phenomenal scorer, and is really a difficult matchup, as you can see," Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said of Evans. "We tried to throw a lot of different looks at her."

The Dukes, who were picked to finish third in the CAA, kept the game close until the final 10 minutes. The score was tied at 57 after sophomore guard Courtney Hamner (Osbourn Park) sank a three-pointer from the left side. But Maryland went on an 18-3 run over the next six minutes to break the game open. James Madison's only basket in that stretch came, not surprisingly, off of an Evans three-pointer.

Maryland scored nearly all of its points in that run by attacking the basket. Senior Marissa Coleman (14 points) grabbed a defensive rebound and went end-to-end for a layup, and Toliver lobbed a soft pass off of an inbounds play that Liles caught and laid into the basket in one smooth move.

"When the game's getting close, that is the time to attack the rim," said Toliver, who had eight points in the decisive run. "Just the way that they were playing, I wanted to attack their bigs, that I knew that I was faster than. You've got to credit [the] game plan in those moments, just taking advantage of what the defense gives you."

ยท VIRGINIA TECH 81, N. CAROLINA CENTRAL 45: LaKiesha Logan scored 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting to lift the Hokies to an easy win over the Aggies in Blacksburg, Va.

Virginia Tech used a 52-12 advantage on points in the paint to improve to 3-0.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company