Maryland Terrapins Defeat Boston College Eagles, 85-81, in ACC Women's College Basketball

Maryland guard Kristi Toliver (19 points, seven assists) pushes the ball past Boston College guard Mickel Picco.
Maryland guard Kristi Toliver (19 points, seven assists) pushes the ball past Boston College guard Mickel Picco. (By Charles Krupa -- Associated Press)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass., Feb. 9 -- Marissa Coleman has always prided herself on the proficient way she shoots free throws. But she's struggled at times from the line this season, and after she missed more free throws than she made against North Carolina State last week, she put up hundreds of shots on her own time.

The extra work -- 200 free throws on her off day, and 50 to 100 shots on the days the Terrapins had practice -- paid off in 11th-ranked Maryland's 85-81 victory over Boston College on Monday night in Conte Forum. Coleman converted all 10 free throws she took, including four in the final 30 seconds as the dozens of girls in the crowd of 1,522 exhorted the home team by shrieking at the tops of their lungs.

The Terrapins (19-4, 7-2 ACC) had five players score in double figures, but they leaned heavily on their two senior leaders, Coleman (23 points) and Kristi Toliver (19 points), down the stretch.

"They just continue to put this team on their back," said Coach Brenda Frese, whose team hosts No. 17 Virginia (19-5, 5-3) on Thursday. "I thought they did a phenomenal job keeping us composed, having great confidence in their teammates."

The Terrapins have fond memories of playing in the Boston area; the city, after all, was the site of their most memorable victory: the 78-75 overtime win over Duke in the 2006 NCAA final. Maryland is also 8-0 all-time against the Eagles. Said Toliver: "Boston is my favorite place to come. I wish we could play here every game."

Boston College, now in its fourth season in the ACC, has never finished with a winning record in conference play. But under first-year coach Sylvia Crawley, the former North Carolina standout, the Eagles (17-7, 5-4) won six of their first seven league games before suffering back-to-back losses to No. 4 Duke and No. 14 Florida State.

The Eagles, who shot 52.3 percent from the field, have one of the biggest starting front courts in the league, with 6-foot-6 Carolyn Swords (who leads the country in field goal percentage) and 6-4 Stefanie Murphy. Swords scored 19 points on 9-for-13 shooting; at times the Eagles simply tossed passes over the top of the Maryland defense, and Swords laid the ball into the basket.

Maryland's front court duo of 6-1 forward Dee Liles (12 points, seven rebounds) and 6-4 center Lynetta Kizer (16 points, seven rebounds) used its versatility to counter the Eagles' strength; both players floated around the floor to make long jumpers. The Terrapins also turned to Yemi Oyefuwa, a rarely used 6-6 freshman from London, to battle Swords inside.

"I thought we really played with a lot of confidence, and Lynetta and Dee just did a tremendous job of attacking and being aggressive," Frese said. "I didn't know how much success we'd have because they're so talented inside. . . . Yemi, she was ready to play. She was a huge X-factor for us, because obviously with Swords she's so big and strong, she wears you out."

During the crucial stretches of the game, it was Toliver and Coleman who made the big plays for Maryland. Over the final six minutes of the first half, for instance, the two seniors combined to score 14 points in a 17-7 run that gave the Terrapins a 46-41 halftime advantage.

Maryland led, 76-64, with 5 minutes 40 seconds remaining in the game, after scoring six straight points off offensive rebounds. But over the next two minutes, Boston College went on a 9-0 run as the Terrapins attempted only one shot and committed two turnovers.

Liles converted an open layup off a nice feed from Toliver (seven assists), and then Toliver came flying in from behind to knock an entry pass away from Swords in the post. With 45.5 seconds remaining, Toliver sank a three-pointer from the right side with Swords -- who is nine inches taller -- charging out at her. Coleman sealed the win with her free throws.

"That's what we thrive off of, playing in situations like that, when it comes down to the wire and you have their home fans against you," Coleman said. "Kristi and I are just used to it. I think when Kristi and I play composed and confident, it feeds off to the rest of the team. They're looking to us as their leaders."

© 2009 The Washington Post Company