Sixth-ranked Cheyney State finished its fifth straight undefeated home season by frustrating No. 7 Maryland, 70-59, today in the final regular-season game for both women's basketball teams.
The Wolves (25-2) never trailed after attaining a 15-14 lead with 9:35 to go in the first half. Cheyney led by eight at intermission and held off several Maryland (22-4) second-half surges to secure an important pre-NCAA-tournament victory.
"We were well-prepared, but we played too tentatively early," Maryland Coach Chris Weller said. "We lost confidence after our last loss to N.C. State. I've been so frustrated by our patty-caking on offense. We didn't take it to them. We shut off our own offense. We sure looked like we were intimidated."
Cheyney's first basket of the second half gave the Wolves their then-biggest lead at 31-21. Maryland's 1-2-2 defense began pressing the Wolves and when Jasmina Perazic and Marcia Richardson made successive baskets, the Terrapins were within 35-32 with 14:20 remaining.
Here, Yolanda Laney and Rosetta Guilford ignited a 16-8 surge that expanded the home team's margin to 51-40 with 8:30 left.
Maryland closed to 53-49 at 5:15 with the help of a technical foul on Guilford. The last four points of the rally came on consecutive baskets by Richardson and Perazic once more. Just as quickly, the Wolves ran in six straight points and it was 59-49 with 3:35 to go.
When Perazic's layup was nullified by a traveling call a minute later, Maryland's last chance for a comeback was gone.
Cheyney won its conference title with victories Friday and Saturday night and Coach Vivian Stringer said, "We played on sheer emotion. No matter how tired we were, this was too big a ball game. I broke my rule of taking them one game at a time for the first time in 11 years. We've been preparing for this one for a week.
"We wanted to make Maryland concentrate on offense. We wanted to put pressure on Richardson, but (Debbie) Lytle shocked us with those 18-footers. Luckily, the other players never got into the flow. I think both teams are of final-four caliber."
The first half was the Terrapins' worst of the season. Maryland scored just 21 points and Richardson and Perazic, who average more than 35 points combined, totaled one basket. Only Lytle, playing in her native Philadelphia area for the last time as a Terrapin, kept Maryland in the game with four long jumpers.