They changed their coasts, but not their form.
The University of Maryland women's basketball team defeated the University of Missouri, 80-68, tonight in a semifinal of the NCAA West Regional at Stanford's Maples Pavilion.
The ACC champion Terrapins (24-6) will advance to the final four in Norfolk, Va., Friday through March 28, if they are victorious Sunday over Drake, which beat Long Beach State, 91-78 in tonight's late game.
There was an odd concoction of the familiar and the unfamiliar tonight for Maryland. Five players were in double figures. Jasmina Perazic (21), Myra Waters (18), Belinda Pearman (13), Marcia Richardson (11) and Debbie Lytle (11) were the high five against Missouri (24-9).
"That's typical for us. Balance," said Lytle.
Another bit of familiarity was Maryland moving to a quick lead. It reached its first-half apex at 22-12, then slipped to a 36-34 halftime deficit.
"We seemed to have them on the ropes, but we couldn't take them out. That's happened before," said Richardson.
The unfamiliar part was almost unprecedented. With 13:23 left to play and the Terrapins leading, 49-47, Maryland Coach Chris Weller was assessed a technical for arguing a traveling call. "It was my first technical in 15 years of coaching. I didn't use any profanities," she said.
The coach, who tonight won her 150th game in seven years at Maryland, added with a smile, "I do think it might have inspired the team, though."
Said Lytle about the "T" that, in this case stood for Turnaround, "Everybody's mouth dropped. We said, 'Coach Weller wants to win this game. Perhaps we should, too.' "
The effect of the technical took several minutes in shaping. When Perazic scored two free throws with 3:40 left, concluding a 10-2 stretch, Maryland had an insurmountable 72-60 lead.
For awhile it seemed No. 20 Missouri might upset the No. 7 Terrapins. But 13 second-half Tiger turnovers (23 overall) ended the possibility.
The Terrapins are again in a familiar position: the final eight. But the tournament is unfamiliar: this is the first year the NCAA has conducted a women's basketball tournament; in the past the AIAW has held the only postseason championship. Maryland has been in the final eight the last three years, but has gotten no further.
"I would like to finally break into the final four," said Weller. "I think we're one of the top four teams in the nation."