It was billed as the return of Kris Kirchner. It ended as one of the major upsets of this women's college basketball season as Maryland beat second-ranked Rutgers, 80-69, last night at Cole Field House.
The 11th-ranked Terrapins (10-5) overcame an early 15-point deficit in breaking the Knight's nine-game win streak.
This was the first time Kirchner faced our old team since transferring to Rutgers (15-2). A member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, Kirchner was a three-year starter for the Terps before deciding to leave because of alleged conflicts with Maryland Coach Chris Weller.
But Kirchner, Rutgers' leading scorer and rebounder, wasn't the star of this game. Maryland's Myra Waters was. The 5-foot-10 junior scored 25 points, shooting 10 for 15 from the field, and neutralized the 6-4 Kirchner in the second half when the Terps roared back.
"We were playing Rutgers. We weren't playing Kirchner," Weller said when asked if she attached any significance to confronting her former star. "It was like this last year. We had a good ball club, but the only thing anyone talked about was Kirchner."
Now they'll talk about the Terps' big comeback in posting their first victory this season over a top 10 team. Making only three of its first 11 shots and turning the ball over five times, Maryland trailed, 21-6, with 11:45 left in the half.
"If you panic, you might as well forget it," Weller said. The Terps didn't panic. Instead they outscored the Knights, 12-2, over the next three minutes to cut the deficit to 23-18. But Rutgers, behind Kirchner's 12 points, still led, at the half, 37-29.
Kirchner said her team was intimidated and she told her players at halftime, "Don't do anything different. Just do it better."
With Waters holding Kirchner (19 points) to one field goal in five attempts, the Terps outscored the Knights, 51-32, over the final 20 minutes. In the second half, Waters scored 16 points, Marcia Richardson 11 of her 16 points and Pam Reaves all of her 13 points.
Rutgers played without top forward June Olkowski, who has missed the last three games with a knee injury. Patty Delehanty and Patty Coyle each had 16 points for Rutgers.