Louisiana Tech women's basketball Coach Sonja Hogg wasn't the only person upset when Old Dominion ended her team's 54-game winning streak Friday night. Maryland Coach Chris Weller wasn't too pleased, either.
"I would rather have them on a winning streak," said Weller. "Now they'll be up for our game."
The sixth-ranked Terrapins play top-ranked Louisiana Tech, the defending national champions, at 7:30 tonight in Cole Field House. Maryland (16-2) is coming off its biggest victory this season--a 69-66 win Saturday over third-ranked Rutgers. It was the Terrapins' 11th straight triumph.
Tech Assistant Coach Leon Barmore isn't sure how the loss to Old Dominion will affect his team. "We haven't lost in so long, I don't know how we'll react," he said. "But it does feel like a heavy burden has been lifted off our shoulders. We are in some ways relieved."
Tech (20-1) is finishing the most difficult stretch of its season. The team has been on the road for eight days, defeating Clemson and 13th-ranked Georgia and losing to seventh-ranked Old Dominion.
Tech has every player from last year's national championship team back. Until the loss to Old Dominion, only five teams had come within 10 points and only one within five. Before the game with Old Dominion, Tech had played 107 consecutive games without allowing the opposition to shoot 50 percent from the field.
Earlier this season, Tech broke the record for the longest winning streak in NCAA history, winning its 52nd straight against Oral Roberts. Tech averages 3,500 fans a game; the men's team averages 1,800. Hogg even has a Saturday evening television program on KNOE-TV in Ruston with Tech highlights.
Tech features a strong front line of 5-foot-8 forward Angela Turner, 6-foot forward Pam Kelly and 6-3 center Janice Lawrence. But Tech's strength is its depth at each position. Weller has said that Tech's second team probably could start for any other team in the country.
"Tech plays a deliberate game, a half-court game," said Tennessee Coach Pat Head, whose team lost to Tech in the finals of the AIAW championship last year. "You can't outrun them. You have to play them on the boards."
Maryland's offense has been hampered since leading scorer Jasmina Perazic sprained her ankle two weeks ago. But Perazic had a strong game against Rutgers, coming off the bench to play 32 minutes and score 18 points. Perazic will not start tonight, but should be a factor.
"The streak is broken, now we have to go on to other business," Hogg said. "It's going to be a different game against Maryland. Now I hope the girls get themselves up. They have snapped back. They know what they have to do tonight."
"In terms of overall balance, depth and poise, they have to be perhaps the strongest team that I've seen," Weller said. "But I do not think they are unbeatable. We are not going in thinking it's just an honor to be on the same court."
In local men's college basketball Saturday night, Howard (8-8) defeated South Carolina State, 72-62, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game. Bernard Perry (17 points) and Rodney Wright (16) filled in for leading scorer James Ratliff, who had injured his knee.
George Washington broke a three-game St. Bonaventure winning streak, defeating the Bonnies, 78-64, in an Eastern Eight game. Colonials Oscar Wilmington (17 points), Wilbert Skipper (18) and Mike Brown stopped a second-half Bonnie rally.
In Annapolis, Billy Barnes' two free throws with 14 seconds remaining gave William and Mary a 47-46 overtime win over Navy. Midshipman Rob Romaine sent the game into overtime with two free throws, but missed a shot at the buzzer.
Nationally, Lester Conner and Charlie Sitton scored 16 points each to lift eighth-ranked Oregon State over Southern Cal, 72-55. The Beavers are 8-1 in the Pacific-10, tied for first place with Washington.
Eleventh-ranked Idaho shot 71 percent from the field to defeat Boise State, 91-59. Vandal Phil Hopson led all scorers with 19 points. No. 9 San Francisco needed an eight-foot turnaround jumper from Wallace Bryant with eight seconds remaining to defeat St. Mary's, 86-84, in double overtime.
Thirteenth-ranked Alabama edged No. 15 Tennessee, 77-72. Alabama's Cliff Windham scored 15 points and had a key rebound in the final seconds.