"I'm scared to death of Clemson," said Maryland Coach Chris Weller after the Terps cruised to a 100-49 quarterfinal win over Wake Forest in the Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball tournament opening game at Cole Field House yesterday.
"With five minutes left, I said to myself, 'Oh no, we've got to play Maryland tomorrow,'" said Clemson Coach Annie Tribble after the Tigers narrowly escaped Virginia with a 78-76 victory last night.
Both coaches' worries will be answered in today's semifinal at 5 p.m. In the other semifinal at 3 p.m. tournament favorite North Carolina State, a 99-48 winner over Georgia Tech, will play North Carolina.
The Terps, who beat Wake, 117-53, 17 days ago, had little trouble with the Deacons. After leading 11-10, with four minutes gone, the Terps ran off a 13-2 burst and the Deacons watched the Maryland fast break from long distance the rest of the way. Kris Kirchner scored nine points in the spurt and wound up with 23 points. Krystal Kimrey came off the bench to score 20, on 10-of-13 shooting.
Wake, playing with no one over six-feet tall, couldn't handle the Maryland inside game. The Terps outrebounded the Deacons, 29-9, in the first half and 59-21 for the game.
"We got to experiment and use a lot of people in different positions," Weller said of the rout.
Weller might be thankful to have been able to rest some of her players as she watched Clemson and Virginia race up and down the court at a torrid pace.
"I don't think Clemson will be tired," said Weller. "If they beat us, they might be too tired for the finals but they should have plenty left for us."
In the first half, it looked as though there might not be a tomorrow for the Tigers. Virginia, behind the shooting of Melissa Mahony of Bishop O'Connell High School and Jackie LaBerge who scored 14 and 12, respectively, for the Cavaliers, jumped out to a five-point lead, 40-35, helped considerably by 57 percent shooting.
After cooling Virginia off with man-to-man pressure, Clemson seemed to have things in hand with 1:34 left and a 75-70 lead. However Jill McKone hit two foul shots and Chrissy Reese of Holy Cross High connected on a turn-around jumper to close the gap to one.
With eight seconds left, Virginia's Valerie Ackerman fouled Bobbie Mims, who converted both foul shots. LaBerge hit a jumper with four seconds left to make it 77-76 before Mims closed out the game with a technical foul shot after Virginia called one timeout more than they had.
Tribble, herself exhausted from the racehorse pace, said. "I hope we didn't overextend ourselves . . . I know Maryland didn't."
Clemson was led by Barbara Kennedy's 23 points while LaBerge had 18 for Virginia.
N.C. State handled Georgia Tech with quick dispatch, jumping to an early 19-6 lead before Tech broke a sweat. June Doby led the Wolfpack attack with 18 points on eight-of-10 shooting from the floor while grabbing nine rebounds. Connie Rogers, who shot seven of eight from the floor, tallied 17 points.
In the final game last night, North Carolina followed the examples of Maryland and N.C. State with a quick, painless, 85-63 rout of Duke. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 37-18 halftime lead behind Aprille Shaffer who hit six-of-seven field goal shooting.
Duke, in the other hand, had seven scorers in the first half, none of whom had more than four points as the Blue Devils shot an anemic seven for 35.