Maryland Rallies but Falls Short at Duke in Women's Basketball

Bridgette Mitchell of Duke drives past Lynetta Kizer (12) and Drey Mingo. Maryland erased a 13-point deficit but missed a late three.
Bridgette Mitchell of Duke drives past Lynetta Kizer (12) and Drey Mingo. Maryland erased a 13-point deficit but missed a late three. (By Sara D. Davis -- Associated Press)
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By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

DURHAM, N.C., Jan. 12 -- Kristi Toliver had done this once to Duke before, hit a dagger of a three-pointer to help lead the Maryland women to a thrilling victory. On Monday night, she had a chance to do it again: With less than 10 seconds remaining in a back-and-forth battle, and her team trailing by two, Toliver let fly with a long shot from the right side.

This time, it spun out.

Toliver did sink a three-pointer with two seconds left, but that shot was a little too late for 12th-ranked Maryland. Duke sophomore Jasmine Thomas, a career 59.7 percent shooter from the line, coolly made four free throws in the final 7.7 seconds and the fourth-ranked Blue Devils escaped with a 68-65 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

It was potentially a disappointing end to a hard-fought game, but Coach Brenda Frese told her players in the locker room, "I treat it like a win." It was, after all, a gritty effort from the young, short-handed Terrapins.

Sophomore guard Marah Strickland, who averaged 15.3 points on 48.9 percent shooting in her past four games, did not make the trip because of an undisclosed illness. Senior forward Marissa Coleman battled leg cramps for much of the second half, and was in the training room or on the bench for nearly all of the final 10 minutes of the game.

The Terrapins (13-3, 1-1 ACC) trailed by 13 points in the first half and gave up 56 rebounds, including 26 offensive, to Duke (14-1, 2-0). Toliver, their leading scorer, missed her first eight shots and didn't score her first basket until nearly 24 minutes had elapsed. They were playing in front of 7,550 fans in an arena where the Blue Devils had already knocked off then-No. 14 Oklahoma State and then-No. 3 Stanford this season. Yet Maryland still had a chance to win.

"I'm just really, really proud of our team," Frese said. "I can't say enough, just the adversity we fought through."

Coleman led the Terrapins with 14 points, and got an IV after the game. Freshman center Lynetta Kizer, who limped off the floor in the first half after twisting her left knee when Duke's Abby Waner fell on her, added 12 points and 13 rebounds. Thomas, a three-time All-Met from Oakton, scored a game-high 15 points for Duke.

Duke used a 13-0 run late in the first half to take control of what had been a back-and-forth game. The Blue Devils made 6 of 9 shots in that five-minute stretch, in part because they got good looks at the basket: a couple of open layups, a putback, a long three-pointer from Waner. Maryland faced its biggest halftime deficit of the season, 40-29.

"In the first half we obviously struggled a little bit," said Toliver, who finished with 12 points and six assists. "Me with my shot, it just wasn't going down, but I think we found other ways to contribute. Obviously, rebounding is something that we're going to have to continue to get better at -- that's plain and simple the reason we lost the game. But it's something that we can go into practice and get better at."

Toliver made her first three-pointer of the game with 9 minutes 19 seconds to play to bring the Terrapins within three, 52-49. But Coleman went down at the other end of the court, after fighting for a rebound. She pounded the floor with her fist as she was tended to by the team's trainer. Senior center Chante Black (13 points) scored inside to push the score back to 54-49, but redshirt freshman Anjale Barrett (10 points) and senior Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood -- who had combined to make 12 three-pointers through the first 15 games of the season -- hit back-to-back threes to give Maryland its first lead since the first half, 55-54.

But the Blue Devils responded quickly. Black scored inside, Karima Christmas stole the ball and later scored on putback to make the score 58-55, Duke. An open layup by Waner put the Blue Devils up 64-60 with 1:27 to play, but Coleman -- who had returned to the game a minute earlier -- drove baseline for a layup with 59 seconds left.

Waner lost the ball while driving to the basket, and Maryland came up with the loose ball with 31.7 seconds remaining. Following a timeout, the Terrapins looked for Toliver, who fired up a long three. Said Frese, "Anytime you're in a position to have that final shot, and Kristi taking it -- I'll take it any day."

Toliver, of course, made the biggest three-pointer in program history, against Duke in the NCAA final in 2006. Her shot with 6.1 seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime, where Maryland won, 78-75.

Toliver was asked after the game if she thought she had another big shot in her.

"Yeah. I wanted to," Toliver said with a sly grin. "I guess it's a little too early in the season to break the Dukies' hearts."

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