The Maryland women's basketball team started out strong against two-time defending national champion Old Dominion last night before the second-ranked Monarchs rallied in the second half to defeat the Terrapins, 75-72, before 1,500 at Cole Field House.
It was ODU's 37th consecutive victory.
Anne Donovan, ODU's 6-foot-8 all-American center, played her usual steady game (29 points, 20 rebounds) but guard Rhonda Rompola turned the game around for Old Dominion (10-0).
Maryland was led by sophomore forward Jasmina Perazic, who had 18 points, and point guard Debbie Lytle, with 16 points, nine assists and nine steals in her first game since regaining academic eligibility. Old Dominion finished with a horrendous 31 turnovers, including 11 by freshman point guard Kate Larkin. But the Monarchs made up for their sloppy ballhandling by outrebounding Maryland, 39-20.
With Maryland (5-2) applying intense full-court pressure, Old Dominion turned the ball over 14 times in the first half and trailed, 37-30. Many of the several hundred ODU fans in the crowd must have turned their eyes longingly to the scorer's table, where Nancy Lieberman, former star point guard for ODU, was chomping on popcorn and rooting for her former teammates.
But Rompola completely turned her game around in the second half, steadying play in the back court and converting long jumpers. She scored 24 points in the second half, including 12 in a row and 18 of her team's 22 as Old Dominion finally regained the lead at 12:19 for the first time since early in the first half.
Rompola was not dismayed by her team's seven-point deficit or her own lackluster play. However, she was concerned enough to walk over to Lieberman before the second half and ask for advice. Lieberman responded: "You're putting the ball on the floor too early. You are giving up your shot too soon that way."
Chris Weller, Maryland coach, said Maryland's undoing came from a simple lack of confidence.
"I didn't think it was possible to blow them out. But we had them by nine points in the first half and we really should have taken it to them more.
"They've got a real good zone press and that got them back into the game in the second half (Maryland committed 11 turnovers in the second half.) Maybe the next time we play them we won't let it get away."