Top-ranked Louisiana Tech rebounded from its first loss in two seasons last night, using its size and poise to defeat fifth-ranked Maryland, 73-56, before 2,200 at Cole Field House.

In the first half, the Techsters did not look like a team that had won 54 straight games before losing to Old Dominion Friday night. For the opening 13 minutes Maryland (16-3) outplayed the defending national women's champions and appeared headed to its 12th straight victory.

But, with his team trailing, 14-9, Leon Barmore, the associate head coach who calls the plays from the bench, ordered a timeout and the Techsters (21-1) switched from a man-to-man to a zone defense. From there, they opened a nine-point halftime lead and never led by fewer than 10 points after making their first points of the second half.

"They won with their zone," said Maryland Coach Chris Weller. "We could not make the adjustment and our shots stopped falling."

Said Barmore: "We had a difficult time with our man-to-man defense and had to go to the zone."

Tech forwards Janice Lawrence and Debra Rodman each scored 16 points. Forward Myra Waters led Maryland with 14 while teammate Debbie Lytle had 12 assists.

After the timeout, Tech scored 10 straight points, with guard Angela Turner (14 points) making two straight shots. Maryland committed three straight turnovers and never led again. Turner's steal and layup gave Tech a 26-16 lead with 7:50 left in the half.

Maryland scored six straight points, two on a nice hook shot by Waters with 4:50 left, to cut Tech's lead to 28-24. That was as close as Maryland ever would come.

Jennifer White, a 5-foot-9 guard, got two of her seven points with a 40-foot heave at the buzzer for Tech's 36-27 halftime lead.

With nothing else working and her team still trailing by 10 points midway in the second half, Weller went to the zone press that had upset third-ranked Rutgers Saturday.

But it didn't work. Nothing worked.

When Maryland forced outside shots, the Techsters hit outside jumpers. When Maryland allowed Tech inside, the 6-3 Lawrence and 6-2 Rodman scored easily.

"They were hot," said the Terrapins' Marcia Richardson. "We traded baskets, but they kept hitting theirs."

Denied at times its inside game by 6-foot Maryland center Belinda Pearman (10 points), Tech went to the outside and didn't miss. "We wanted them to shoot outside," said Weller. "But they (the shots) went in."

Tech shot 55 percent, Maryland 38 percent.

The Terrapins' leading scorer, Jasmina Perazic, missed with her jump shots in the first half and had only eight points on four-for-18 shooting. Perazic averages 15 points a game.