Maryland went five minutes without scoring in the second half of Saturday night's Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women's Southern Section championship against topseeded Old Dominion at Cookeville, Tenn.
That lapse helped keep the Terps from advancing to the national semifinals for the second year in a row as they lost, 69-51, to end a 22-7 season.
"It was a disappointment to lose by that much, but I don't think the season can be termed a disappointment," Maryland Coach Chris Weller said yesterday. "Of course, a preseason goal when you have a high-caliber team is to make the final four. And we just missed the final four by that one game.
"We overcame a lot of injuries and a very difficult schedule," Weller said. "There were a lot of highlights. I can tell it was a good season when the whole team said it felt like going out on the court and practicing today.And so did I."
Maryland relied on freshman Lynn Callander to direct the offense, having lost star point guard Tara Heiss through graduation.
And when Callander started off strongly, so did the team, taking second place in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas and winning the Orange Bowl Classic in Miami, knocking off top 10 teams North Carolina State, Tennessee and UCLA.
The play of Callander and freshman forward Myra Waters was a high point, according to Weller, who added, "The play of the freshmen makes us very optimistic about next season.
"Myra performed beautifully during the tournament pressure at the end of the season, after not getting much time during the year because of injuries.
"Callander hurt her ankle, and later suffered a stress fracture of the fibia. When she was in the second half against Old Dominion, though, she played beautifully. They are both going to be very significant to our success next season."
With Callander injured, the Terps bogged down in the middle of the year and dropped three games within two weeks, to North Carolina State, Rutgers and Penn State. In the loss to Penn State, nothing Maryland attempted went right and the Nittany Lions came away with a 21-point victory.
But Maryland regrouped, won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and climbed to the final eight in the AIAW championship. Weller yesterday praised her senior cocaptains for their steadying influence through out the comeback.
"Jane Zivalich and Debbie Stewart did an awfully good job of leadership toward the end," Weller said. "We don't have any reasons to make excuses about this season. Old Dominion is a very, very good team, and that night they happened to be that much better than us."