Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Maryland opened its bid for the women's national basketball title in fine fashion last night, thrashing Penn, 110-44, in the first round of the Eastern Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women regional tournament at Cole Field House.
Rutgers recovered from a shaky start and whipped poor-shooting Howard, 81-64, in the other first-round game.
The Terrapins (22-2), ranked fourth in the country, will meet Rutgers (16-11) tonight at 9 for the right to advance to the finals of the Eastern Region March 10-11 at West Chester (Pa.) State.
Howard (13-10) will play Penn (10-13) in the consolation game at 6:30 tonight.
Maryland had no trouble with the shorter Quakers. The Terps easily controlled the rebounds and got one layup after another.
Tara Heiss, the lighting-quick point guard, ignited the Terps' fast break and, before Penn had caught its breath, it trailed 20-8, after five minutes. Debbie Stewart, with 12 points, led a parade of scores in the first half. Ten players scored for Maryland, which trotted off at intermission on the front end of a 51-23 score.
Rutgers Coach Theresa Grentz said her main concern in playing Maryland in the final was not "allowing the Terps to jump out to a quick lead."
"You can't let them run off those 10- to 12-point streaks. We can't go scoreless for the first three or four minutes like we did against Howard and expect to win," said Grentz.
The Atlantic Coast Conference tournament champions took good-percentage shots, rebounded well and played good defense.
Heiss, who set a school record of 17 assists in Maryland's 96-88 victory over Rutgers earlier this week, handded out six assists last night while playing less than a half.
Both Heiss, the team leader in points, steals and assists, and Coach Chris Weller were concerned over the lopsided win's carryover value.
"A game like this doesn't show much. The only good thing about it is that everybody gets to play," said Heiss. "We'll play much better against Rutgers this time than we did the last time. We didn't play much defense the first time."
Weller is worried about star defensive players Doreen Lefeged, who has a stomach ailment and may not be available for the tournament, and center Kris Kirchner, suffering from a hyperextended elbow.
In tournaments, you need your defensive players," said Weller. "And right now Kris doesn't have much flexibility."
Both Howard and Rutgers showed the strain of tournament play. The visitors from New Jersey missed their first 10 shots and were beaten badly on the backboards in the opening minutes.
However, Howard experienced the same problems trying to score. After the teams raced up and down the coun for what seemed like hours, but was, in fact, five minutes, the score read 6-6.
The Scarlet Knights slowly began adjusting and the shots started to drop. Kathy Glutz, forced to play center because of a knee injury to 6-foot-2 Sandy Tupurins, made seven of 10 shots in the half to help Rutgers gain a 39-25 lead at intermission.
"We went from a good-sized team to a very small one," said Rutgers Coach Grentz. "Playing with a 5-11 center (Glutz) can be brutal. We were a bit lax on the boards and didn't start to box out well until the second half. The first game of a tournament is tough. You know you have to win or you go home quick."
Howard, a winner of nine of its last 11 games, was jittery. The Bison sank only 11 of 40 shots in the first 20 minutes and, except for aggressive board work by Julie Murphy and four baskets by Winsome Davidson, would have been even farther behind.