Maryland Defeats UNC Asheville in First Round of Terrapin Classic Women's Basketball Tournament

All mine: Maryland's Marissa Coleman snares a rebound during the first half of the Terrapins' 90-57 victory in their first home game since Nov. 23.
All mine: Maryland's Marissa Coleman snares a rebound during the first half of the Terrapins' 90-57 victory in their first home game since Nov. 23. (By Gail Burton -- Associated Press)
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By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The only cheers that could be heard inside Comcast Center as the players from 14th-ranked Maryland and UNC Asheville ran to their respective benches with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half yesterday afternoon came from the Bulldogs' corner of the arena. The visitors held a one-point lead over the more talented Terrapins, who were missing everything from layups to open three-pointers.

During the timeout, Maryland Coach Brenda Frese let her players know that she was not happy with their concentration and scrappiness. But she was heartened by the way they were moving the ball and the kind of shots they were getting. Those shots finally started to fall, and Maryland ran away with a 90-57 victory in the first round of the Terrapin Classic in front of 5,865.

"We were sharing the basketball. I thought those easy missed layups, that's the rhythm and flow," said Frese, whose team was playing its first game since Dec. 21 and its first game at home since Nov. 23. "We just needed to get back into game action, and we eventually were going to be able to fight those in."

Senior guard Kristi Toliver, who leads the team in scoring (15.6 points) and the ACC in assists (4.7), was suspended for the game because of an unspecified violation of team rules and watched from the bench. She is expected to play today, when the Terrapins (10-2) face Mississippi State (11-0) in the championship game. The Lady Bulldogs, one of eight remaining undefeated teams in the country entering yesterday's games, beat Marshall, 73-65, in the first game yesterday.

Maryland made just six of its first 28 shots as UNC Asheville (3-8) took a 21-20 lead. But from that point on, the Terrapins shot 58.1 percent (25 for 43). Sophomore guard Marah Strickland, who missed the Old Dominion game for personal reasons, posted career highs in points (21) and rebounds (10). Freshman Lynetta Kizer missed her first two shots and then didn't miss again, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds.

The Terrapins didn't seem to miss Toliver, the program's all-time assist leader. Maryland had a season-high 22 assists (on 31 field goals), and eight players recorded at least one assist. Redshirt freshman guard Anjalé Barrett had nine -- including a perfectly executed alley-oop to Demauria Liles on an inbounds play with 00.6 on the clock in the first half -- and senior forward Marissa Coleman, who occasionally ran the point, had four.

"Just feeding off of everybody else is contagious, passing the ball around," Kizer said.

Midway through the second half, Kizer jumped to catch an outlet pass from Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood, and while in the air, the 6-foot-4 center twisted and made a pretty touch pass to a cutting Strickland, who converted the layup and was fouled.

"Lynetta, she might be one of the most unselfish big girls," Strickland said. "When she's running the floor, she's always looking for who's around, looking at the rim. I knew she was going to find me."

Notes: Sophomore guard Kendall Shepard (Northwestern) led Asheville with 12 points and four assists. . . . Jackie Nared, a 6-1 forward from Oregon, has been certified by the NCAA and has joined Maryland's program. Nared, whose father Greg played for Maryland's men's team from 1986 to 1989, committed to the Terrapins in the spring but was forced to sit out the first semester because of an issue with the NCAA clearinghouse. She is permitted to practice but will redshirt this season, Frese said.

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