Sophomore forward Jas Perazic scored a career-high 28 points, including 20 in the second half, to lead the Maryland women's basketball team over Rutgers, 72-69, in the semifinal round of the AIAW Region 1-B tournament tonight at the Palestra.
Third-seeded Maryland (18-7), the defending region champion, plays top-seed Cheyney State (23-2) in the finals Saturday at 9. Cheyney defeated Penn State, 82-69, in the other semi-final game. The tournament winner is assured a berth in the AIAW national tournament. The runner-up is expected to receive an at-large berth.
Trailing by as much as 15 point early in the second half, Maryland rallied behind the incredible shooting of Perazic and a much-improved defense that shut down Kris Kirchner, Rutgers' all-America center.
Perazic made what turned out to be the winning shot with 15-foot jumper from the right side that gave Maryland a 70-69 with 28 seconds left. Rutgers called two timeouts, then worked the ball inside to June Olkowski.
The six-foot forward had an easy shot from about eight feet out on the right wing, but her bank shot missed badly. Perazic was fouled on the rebound and made two free throws with four seconds left to ensure the victory.
A starter on the Yugoslavian Olympic team, Perazic made 12 of 15 shots from the floor, most on medium-range jumpers and moves along the baseline. She had missed several games the past month because of ulcers, and during that span Maryland had often had problems with its offense.
"This is the first game in which I played well since I've been sick," said the 6-1 forward. "I'm not completely well yet, but I feel better and my shot is coming back."
After two free throws by Bo Pearman cut the margin to 62-61 with five minutes left, Rutgers scored twice and Maryland looked dead. But Perazic scored on a layup with 2:41 left, and 30 seconds later Myra Waters maneuvered past Kirchner for a three-point play and a 68-66 Maryland lead.
Joanne Burke scored a three-point play for second-seeded Rutgers with 52 seconds left. Maryland worked the ball around slowly until Perazic got free on the right wing. With the 30-second clock running out, she put up a soft jumper that gave an often eratic team its most important and encouraging victory.