By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 4, 2009
There were many reasons why Thursday night should have marked the end of the Maryland women's basketball team's program-record 42-game home winning streak. Maryland Coach Brenda Frese's squad is young, turnover-prone and currently competing without its top player at full strength.
That Minnesota was the foe visiting Comcast Center as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge only thickened the plot. Before Frese became an NCAA title-winning coach at Maryland, she had a one-year stay with the Golden Gophers, whom she directed to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2002.
Frese departed Minnesota on less than amicable terms, and there were a number of yellow-clad Golden Gophers fans in attendance who would have enjoyed nothing more than to see their team end Maryland's streak. But, as one sign noted, Comcast Center is "Brendaville" on nights when the Maryland women's team plays. The Terrapins won, 66-45, and extended their home winning streak to 43.
"Like I told the team afterward, hearing [the Minnesota fans] at introductions and how loud they were and for this team to be able to silence them throughout the game I thought made a statement, just in terms of our play," Frese said. "Obviously, I love being here at Maryland."
Sophomore forward Lynetta Kizer, Maryland's leading scorer and rebounder, hobbled under the strain of a left ankle sprain. She rumbled up and down the court, her face wincing with nearly every other step. Kizer tallied 10 points and five rebounds, and, due to the aid provided by several teammates, was able to rest on the bench for stretches at a time.
In her second career start, 5-foot-9 sophomore guard Kim Rodgers finished with a team-high 14 points and eight rebounds. Freshman forward Diandra Tchatchouang added 13 points and six rebounds.
"We're still young right now, but I think where we want to be at is on defense," Kizer said. "That's where we want to really hang our hat is being able to stop other teams. . . . Our offense will come."
Minnesota shot 27.1 percent from the field on the night, a tribute both to the Golden Gophers' deficient aim and to Maryland's improving defense. The Terrapins claimed the edge in rebounding as well, 40-36.
"We were probably more physical with them than any team they've played so far," Rodgers said. "They weren't ready for it."
Neither team shot the ball particularly well to start the game. Two minutes ticked off the game clock before a basket was scored. Three and a half minutes had expired by the time Rodgers tallied the Terrapins' first basket.
From that point forward, the two squads traveled in divergent directions. Maryland (7-1) went on an 11-0 run midway through the first half to provide a cushion the Terrapins would nurse for the rest of the night. Minnesota (5-3) shot 23.3 percent from the field before the intermission.
The Terrapins ensured the Golden Gophers never threatened their lead in the second half. With just more than five minutes remaining, Kizer received a pass in transition and scored to put Maryland up by 20. Caught up in the excitement of the crowd's cheer, Kizer raised her hands and hopped a few steps over to celebrate with her teammates on one foot.
"I think the momentum brought me through the game pretty much," Kizer said. "The high energy that my teammates were feeding off, and I was feeding off them. So I wasn't really too worried about [the ankle] tonight."