Maryland continued its recent purge of top-10 women's teams today, parlaying an opportunistic offense and heady defense into a 77-74 victory over sixth-ranked Louisiana State at Madison Square Garden.
That game was followed by topranked Old Dominion's 106-53 rout of Queens College in the finale of the doubleheader.
The third-ranked Terrapins now have defeated the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 teams in the last nine days -- all away from home -- to improve their record to 8-1. Maryland plays second-ranked Stephen F. Austin at Cole Field House Monday night at 7:30.
"We didn't come to the Garden to bomb out," said Terrapin sophomore Betsy Bailey. However, Bailey bombed the hoop -- mostly from outside -- for a team-high 26 points. Bailey made 12 of 19 shots and added a game-high six assists.
"Our game is to go inside," said Bailey, a 5-foot-9 guard. "But they were all over Kris (Kirchner) today, collapsing on her."
The sixth-ranked Lady Tiger strategy worked as Kirchner was limited to a subpar 14 points on six of 16 shooting. But the 6-3 sophomore All-America made her presence felt at the defensive end, blocking four shots and stealing the ball twice.
Two straight layups by Kirchner, off offensive rebounds midway through the first half, gave Maryland a 20-15 lead. But the Terps had four turnovers and two missed shots on their six possessions to allow the Lady Tigers to come back within two points before substitute forward Krystal Kimrey scored six straight points to lift Maryland to its biggest lead of the half, 39-29.
Then another rash of Terp turnovers allowed LSU to close to 39-35 at intermission.
All-America center Julie Gross, a 29-point scorer who normally shoots about 24 times per game, was limited to nine points and nine shots in the first half by Maryland's deny-defense.
"We were trying to play defense prior to Gross getting the ball," said Maryland Coach Chris Weller. "Once she got it, we couldn't afford to challenge her because we would have gotten in foul trouble."
Gross, a 6-2 junior from Australia, got loose in the second half and finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Senior forward Jane Zivalich scored six straight points midway through the second half to lift the Terps into a comfortable 65-56 lead. LSU, now 5-2, twice late in the game closed the gap to three, but Kirchner and Pam Reaves made one-and-one foul shots to give Maryland breathing room.
The Terrapins played without freshman point guard Lynn Callander, who had a sprained ankle. But senior Lisa Schlesinger, who shares playing time with Callander, filled in well consistently beating the Lady Tiger full-court press.
"Lisa was a big plus," said Weller. "I was concerned about the point because she hadn't had much experience. But she played admirably."
Schlesinger had five assists and two steals while playing the full 40 minutes. Zivalich added 14 points and seven rebounds for Maryland.
Junior point guard Nancy Lieberman, considered by many the nation's best woman player, did nothing to blemish her reputation in Old Dominion's easy victory.
Lieberman, a native of Far Rockaway, N.Y., missed just four of 18 shots en route to 33 points in 33 minutes.The 5-10 junior added 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals in a performance that had autograph-seekers from the crowd of 4,252 lined up two-deep behind the Old Dominion bench in the game's late stages. CAPTION: Picture, Maryland's Debbie Stewart catches an elbow from Debbie Gross of LSU in Madison Square Garden encounter. UPI