No. 14 Maryland women run out of gas at finish line in 71-64 loss to No. 3 Duke in ACC opener

Maryland's Kim Rodgers (22) and Alicia DeVaughn (13) defend as Duke's Karima Christmas (13) drives for a shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Maryland's Kim Rodgers (22) and Alicia DeVaughn (13) defend as Duke's Karima Christmas (13) drives for a shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) (Gerry Broome - AP)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 6, 2011; 11:56 PM

DURHAM, N.C. -- There may be a day, perhaps even this season, when the Maryland women's basketball team can withstand the severe demands of playing one of the country's finest teams in an uncommonly hostile environment and emerge a winner. Until then, the 14th-ranked Terrapins must settle for nights such as these, when a 71-64 loss to No. 3 Duke on Thursday revealed both the possibilities and pitfalls associated with such a youthful group.

In the ACC opener for both schools before 5,214 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Maryland looked every bit the match for its formidable adversary through 37-plus minutes, when it led, 60-58. But at the game's seminal juncture, Duke's Jasmine Thomas, a senior, showed the resolve and shot-making that make her a national player of the year candidate and so dependable in anxious situations.

Her three-pointer with 1 minute 58 seconds remaining gave the unbeaten Blue Devils the lead for good, 61-60, and the 2007 All-Met Player of the Year from Oakton followed that with an off-balance one-hander 48 seconds later. Then Maryland's fate was all but sealed when Chelsea Gray stole the ball and took it the distance for a layup with 53 seconds to play.

"I thought we let the last three minutes slip away," said Maryland Coach Brenda Frese , whose team is one of seven in Division I without any seniors. "The difference obviously we felt was on the boards. They did a tremendous job just deflating us defensively. . . . They finished it. They put 40 minutes together. With our young team, we've got to be able to complete games when we go on the road."

The Terrapins (13-2) were outrebounded, 46-42, for just the second time this season, and the discrepancy was especially profound in the second half, when Duke grabbed more than twice as many offensive rebounds than it did in the first 20 minutes. Maryland entered the game with a plus-16.4 rebounding margin, and its inability to come close to matching that in large part contributed to the end of its 12-game winning streak and its fourth straight loss to Duke (15-0).

Prized freshman forward Alyssa Thomas was the only Maryland player with double-figure rebounds (game-high 12), and she added 11 points but missed 12 of 15 shots. Thomas also chipped in with three steals and two assists in 38 minutes, the most on either team.

Junior guard Kim Rodgers scored a career-high 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including 3 of 7 on three-pointers, and was one of just two Maryland players to make more than half her shots. The Terrapins' starting front line of Thomas, Lynetta Kizer, Tianna Hawkins and Diandra Tchatchouang combined to shoot 13 for 40. Maryland shot 38 percent overall and was 14 of 21 from the foul line one game after it went just 14 of 25 on free throws.

"We're very happy with our effort at least that we played with today," Rodgers said. "Like Coach B said, for the first 37 minutes we were in it. We were leading for a lot of the game. For us to come down here, for this to be our first ACC game, I think maybe it's a little wakeup call. I think the fact we only lost by seven, that we hung with them shows that we're going to be good as we get better."

Maryland delivered the first barrage of the game by scoring 14 straight points to take a 22-13 lead midway through the first half. It began with a short field goal by freshman center Alicia DeVaughn and two low-post baskets from Tchatchouang, who had nine rebounds but five turnovers. Then Rodgers began what may have been the best stretch of basketball in her career, making consecutive three-pointers for a 20-13 advantage that forced a Duke timeout.

Coming out of the stoppage, Rodgers got out in front on a fast break, gathered a pass from sophomore guard Dara Taylor and made a layup. Krystal Thomas made a basket for the Blue Devils, but Rodgers wasn't done. She made 1 of 2 free throws and then darted downcourt to wind up on the receiving and scoring end of another fast break for a 25-15 margin with 8:40 to go before intermission.

Duke began clamping down defensively thereafter, though, by pressing Maryland and forcing turnovers. The Blue Devils, meantime, began to show on offense too, scoring 12 of the next 14 points to tie it at 27 with 2:10 to play.

The Terrapins went on another run to close the half that included DeVaughn's putback after Kizer missed first and Thomas missed after that. Then Kizer made an acrobatic shot at the buzzer that officials had to review to make sure the junior center had released it in time. When they confirmed the basket was good, Maryland took a 33-29 lead into the break following another thrilling moment in one of the most heated rivalries in the country.

"It's everything that coach has prepared you for," the Terps' Thomas said of the atmosphere in her first ACC game. "The toughness, the refs and everything. We did a good job until the last three minutes, and if we stick together, this team I think will do well this year."

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