Maryland women hold off Saint Joseph's

By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 4, 2010

Moments after the Maryland women's basketball team's 79-69 victory over Saint Joseph's on Sunday at Comcast Center, Coach Brenda Frese picked up the public address microphone and thanked the fans.

"As you can see, we're going to make it a lot of fun this season," she told the announced crowd of 5,911 after the Terrapins almost wasted a 16-point lead early in the second half before steadying themselves for their fourth consecutive win and ninth in 10 games.

In its final preparation before the start of ACC play, Maryland (12-2) got a game- and season-high 25 points and five blocks from freshman forward Diandra Tchatchouang, who made 9 of 15 shots, including 2 of 3 from three-point range. Sophomore guard Anjalé Barrett added a season-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting and also made 2 of 3 three-pointers.

The Terrapins outrebounded Saint Joseph's, 51-38, limited the Hawks to 33 percent shooting, including 22 percent in the first half, and won the points battle inside, 28-18. Maryland also held the Hawks to 29 percent shooting from three-point range while the Terrapins shot 44 percent.

"We had tremendous poise and composure down the stretch, especially against a great, hard-working team like Saint Joe's," Frese said. "I'm proud of the fact we had a lot of players spark us, give us energy, and really especially down the stretch taking care of the basketball, valuing it."

When Barrett's jumper gave Maryland a 42-26 lead with 16 minutes 42 seconds left in the game, it appeared Maryland would coast to the win after having its way in the first half.

But Saint Joseph's (6-8) got consecutive three-pointers from Amy Gillespie, who scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the second half, to get within 10. The senior guard made all three of her three-pointers in the second half after going 0 for 3 in the first 20 minutes.

"Those are the teachable moments where we've got to get better. I mean those back-to-back threes I thought really hurt us," Frese said. "Saint Joe's got some great looks. They really started shooting the ball from the perimeter, so at that point they made it a game."

Maryland appeared set to finish out the game comfortably when Tchatchouang's three-pointer made it 56-45 with 10:32 left, but the Hawks responded again with a 9-1 burst that included two three-pointers. The second of those became a four-point play after Katie Kuester was fouled in the act of shooting and made the shot and the ensuing free throw. Prim then made a pair of fouls shots, and Saint Joseph's was within 57-54 with 8:11 remaining.

That would be as close as the Hawks would get, however, as the Terrapins responded with six consecutive points, including a three-pointer from Barrett, and then opened a 69-59 lead with 4:49 left courtesy of a layup by Lynetta Kizer (eight points, 10 rebounds).

"We tried to be focused on defense" Tchatchouang said when asked about Maryland withstanding the Hawks' second-half charge. "We know they have a lot of shooters, so we had to be able to stop them."

Over the final 2:48, St. Joseph's shot 1 of 7 from three-point range, and Maryland's lead never fell to fewer than six points.

"It's 2010. I'm excited to see where we're at as a team," Frese said. "Like I told them, we are getting better. We are improving. I see the steps we are making, and the next test for us is N.C. State."

-- TOWSON 60, GEORGE MASON 46: The Patriots are still looking for their first road win of the season after losing their Colonial Athletic Association opener at Towson (7-5). Amber Easter had 14 points for George Mason (7-5).

-- VIRGINIA TECH 74, UMBC 44: The Hokies won their third game of the season by 30 points and have won three straight heading into their ACC opener. Utaha Drye scored 14 points for Virginia Tech (10-4).

Information from staff reports was included in this story.

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