Reserve forward Debbie Stewart came off the Maryland bench to help neutralize North Carolina State's 6-foot-2 sharp-shooters, Genia Beasley as the Terrapins downed the Wolfpack, 89-82, for the first women's ACC tournament title yesterday.
Stewart was a different player from the one who had been in awe of Beasley in their first meeting, when State defeated Maryland, 90-78, in Releigh.
Asked who or what had changed her play. Stewart said, "She (Coach Chris Weller) did it. I didn't have any confidence before and now I've got all the confidence I need. She told me to shoot - I hadn't been shooting at all."
Shoot she did, dropping in seven of 11 field goals and four of four free throws.
Stewart was instrumental in frustrating Beasley early in the first half, getting position inside for rebounds (she finished with eight) and forcing State's center to put up several air balls.
Beasley was rattled, and Stewart knew it. "I guess she thought I was kind of rough, and when the fouls weren't called her way, she got up-set."
Upset enough to make only 11 of 26 field-goal attempts and commit five turnovers.
It was difficult to tell that Stewart had been suffering from the flu during the tourney. She played only 10 munites in Friday night's game against Clemson, and looked flushed and tired.
"Everybody was really psyched up to play (yesterday), and we'd all been playing really well." Bailey said after the victory. But most important in this victory, as Betsy Bailey put it, was the "people coming off the bench and blowing them away, too."
Even the State players were willing to admit that Stewart and Kris Kirchner had done the job on Beasley.
"Genia didn't have a good game," said State point guard Ginger Rouse. "Kirchner and Stewart played her tough. Our offense wasn't smooth at all, we didn't set any picks."
State Coach Ka Yow attributed the loss to "lack of patience and turnovers.
"Our offense was inconsistent. At times this year we've had the tendency to lose patience on offense and start to rush," said Yow. "And when you're behind you can't do that."
State's impatience was obvious late in the second half Kirchner kept her hand in Beasley's face in the warning moments, but the Pack center threw up several ill advised shots anyaway.
"I just wanted to put pressure on her," said Kirchner. "Andkeep her off the boards."