Maryland blew a 10-point lead in the second half but rcovered to notch a 57-55 victory over Montclair State last night at Cloe Field Hous in the first round of the Eastern Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women's Region 1-B playoffs.
The victory, requiring a close call by the referee at the buzzer, put the Terps into Friday's regional final at Towson State against the winner of today's game between top-seeded and unbeaten Cheyney state and Pittsburgh.
In the first game at Cole Field House, Penn State wom a trop to the regional final by beating St. Joseph's, 76-62.
As the clock wound down Alice Schmidt of Montclair stole a Debbie Stewart inbounds pass, turned and fired in an 18-footer as the buzzer was sounding. Referee Tony Candido was quick to make a "no-good" gesture.
"There was no question it was a good call," said Maryland Coach Chris Weller. "The girl grabbed the ball, turned, aimed and took the shot. There were double-0s showing on the clock before the play, so she could not possibly have had time to put up an attempt before the buzzer sounded.
"I hate to win like that, but it shouldn't have come to pass like that. All Debbie had to do was heave the ball downcourt. As soon as anybody touched it, time would have expired."
Karen Smith's layup wth two seconds left put the Squaws, (19-6) within reach, 57-55. That followed her own missed free throw on the front end of a one and one and a bewildering call by the officials.
Smith seemingly beat the free throw to the basket, but instead, Betsy Bailcy was called for a lane violation. Smith missed the redeeming opportunity, the ball bounded around for a couple of seconds before she grabbed it and sank the layup.
By the time the Squaws called time, most of the final two seconds had expired.
Kris Kirchner, who sat out eight minutes midway through the second half with three fouls, came back to put the Terps into the lead for good and cement their sixth straight victory and 20th in 25 games.
Kirchner, who left with the Terps possessing an eight-point lead, reentered with 8 1/2 minutes left and the lead down to six points. With Schmidt scoring 14 of her 18 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half, the Squaws eventually tied the count at 49.
Kirchner then hit an eight-footer to make it 51-49. Montclair missed, Pam Reaves rebounded the shot and also rebounded Kirchner's subsequent miss at the other end. Steward hit a 15-footer for a 53-49 Maryland lead, Montclair connected to make it 53-51 and Kirchner sank an eight-foot turn-around for a 55-51 Terp advantage with 2:17 remanining.
Kirchner kept the Squawd shooting from outside on the strength of her five blocks and also tied for gamescoring honors with 18 points. The taller Terps limited Montclair to 31 percent from the floor in snapping a three-game AIAW playoff losing stread to the Squaws.