Maryland loses to Boston College in women's basketball

By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 26, 2010

CHESTNUT HILL, MASS. -- In 2006, the Maryland women's basketball team won the NCAA title in Boston, just a short ride from here down the Massachusetts Turnpike. But these Terrapins do not have Kristi Toliver and Crystal Langhorne.

On Thursday night, Maryland received a major setback in its attempt to reach its seventh consecutive NCAA tournament with its 83-70 loss to Boston College at Conte Forum.

"We put pressure on ourselves because we knew we controlled our destiny if we go out and win this game," guard Lori Bjork said. "I think now we know we're going to have to get on a roll here."

The Terrapins (18-10, 5-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) came here looking to add credibility to their NCAA tournament case by taking advantage of a team that had lost its last three games. But instead, Boston College (15-13, 6-7) soured their outlook. Maryland has virtually no time to buff its résumé.

The Terrapins close the regular season on Sunday against No. 9 Florida State (25-4, 11-2) at Comcast Center. They will likely need to have a strong showing in the ACC tournament in early March if they are going to entertain the idea of playing in the NCAA tournament.

While some Maryland players had red and teary eyes after emerging from the locker room late Thursday night, Coach Brenda Frese tried to maintain a positive view of her team's outlook.

"We still have a game on Sunday to play, and we have to approach the ACC tournament in terms of being ready to play," Frese said. "I think there's still a lot of basketball for us to play."

Offense wasn't the problem for Maryland, which made 6 of 13 three-point attempts and committed only 12 turnovers. The Terrapins' inefficiency on defense cost them.

The Eagles bullied Maryland near the basket and were especially difficult to guard because they shot 50 percent from three-point range. When the Terrapins tried in vain to neutralize center Carolyn Swords, her Boston College teammates were lights-out from the floor, making 11 shots from behinf the arc. The Eagles also converted 18 of 19 free throws.

"She's just a big, strong, talented girl," Frese said. "She's just a difficult matchup."

At 6 feet 6, Swords presented a difficult matchup for Maryland. The Terrapins' game plan was to try to push her away from the basket with a number of defenders, but it was to no avail. Swords had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Swords showed why she is the ACC's leader in rebounds and field goal percentage. Using her sturdy frame to her advantage, she backed down the Terrapins' defenders and used her long arms to block three shots and corral rebounds.

"She's just a physical player," said center Lynetta Kizer, who led the Terrapins with 19 points. "She was getting easy looks, and she was scoring. She was executing."

Although Maryland is coming off an ACC title in 2009, the Terrapins lost four starters from that team and have only one senior on their 10-player active roster. It has been a growing process for a program used to belonging to basketball's upper crust.

While the program's brand name and conference affiliation might help it in the eyes of the selection committee, Maryland played a weak nonconference schedule and has not stood out in the ACC. Its loss here on Thursday night does not inspire much confidence as a tough schedule awaits.

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