In a bizarre, highly controversial finish, the Maryland women's team edged Cheyney State at Cole Field House last night, 59-58, on a last-second eight-foot bank shot by Pam Reaves and advanced to tonight's final of the EAIAW tournament against Rutgers.
The victory virtually assured the Terrapins of a bid to the national AIAW tournament.
The Terps, playing lethargically throughout the second half, pulled within 58-57 on a Myra Waters' rebound basket at the 34-second mark. After in-bounding, Cheyney called a timeout. With 28 seconds remaining, on a 30-second clock, Cheyney all-America Valerie Walker dribbled at midcourt, apparently content to run out the shot clock.
However, she passed to Alicia George, who finally heaved a 25-foot shot with six seconds left in the game -- as the 30-second violation should have been called. No call was made and Terp Kris Kirchner rebounded the missed shot, whipped a pass upcourt to Lydia McAliley, who found Reaves for the game-winner just before the final buzzer.
Cheney Coach Vivian Stringer put the game under protest, claiming the Terps should have taken the ball out or bounds with six seconds remaining. Referee Bob Meyers explained, "I have to watch the action and I listen for a buzzer. I heard no buzzer sound."
The 30-second clock buzzer was heard by several people at courtside. As the Terps moved quickly upcourt with three seconds left, arena announcer John Wagner announced "30-second violation." The action went on, however.
Maryland Coach Chris Weller admitted, "I was trying to get them to call the 30-second violation, but now I'm glad they didn't. We might have lost. It's very often a judgment call as to whether the call is made when the ball leaves the shooter's hand or when it hits the rim. I've gotten furious about it in the past but tonight we got lucky."
Kirchner said, "I knew it was a 30-second violation, but when everyone kept on playing, I wasn't going to stop."
Neither Kirchner nor Reaves heard Wagner announce the violation over the public address system. "I didn't hear anything," said Reaves. "I just yelled to Lydia and she got me the ball."
The Terps (19-8) were led by Kirchner with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Maryland shot 38 percent for the game, 35 percent in the second half. Walker led Cheyney with 19 points.
"I have mixed emotions," said Weller. "I'm happy we won but I feel we kind of snuck sic) in the back door of the national tournament. We got very lucky."
Rutgers made tonight's final by beating Penn State, 90-73.