Revenge is often a motivating factor in sports, especially in team games such as basketball.
Revenge is also what fourth-ranked Old Dominion wants tonight at 9 against No. 6 Maryland in a women's NCAA East Regional semifinal at Penn State. The Terrapins (26-4) upset the Monarchs, 82-66, at Cole Field House Feb. 9.
Last time around, Maryland used a 1-2-2 sagging zone defense to keep the ball away from the much taller front court of Old Dominion (27-5), led by 6-8 senior Anne Donovan (17.0 points, 14.5 rebounds, 5.8 blocked shots) and 6-2 sophomore Medina Dixon (16.0, 7.8). While both managed to score 18 points, Donovan was ineffective much of the night and Dixon scored most of her points when the game's outcome was no longer in doubt. ODU Coach Marianne Stanley can also bring 6-4 freshman Dawn Cullen off the bench.
Donovan, a four-time all-America and two-time player of the year, was on the Monarchs' 1980 title team. As added incentive for Donovan, the final four site is Norfolk, where the Monarchs are based.
Maryland Coach Chris Weller plans to use the same defensive strategy that was so effective the first time. "Our goal going in was to attack but not be reckless, to concentrate on geting good position," Weller said. "It worked (the Terrapins committed their fewest fouls and turnovers of the season), so we'll try to do that again. We want to keep the ball away from Donovan while not ignoring Dixon and Malone (guard Helen, 15.0)."
The Terrapins' offense, featuring point guard Debbie Lytle driving and then passing out to the perimeter, worked to perfection in the first meeting. Every starter shot 50 percent or better while scoring in double figures. It's no coincidence that all the starters are currently shooting better than 52 percent and scoring in double figures. All-Americas Jasmina Perazic (16.3) and Marcia Richardson (15.8) lead the way, while freshman Chequita Wood from Marshall High School, contributes more than eight points and five rebounds as a reserve.
"We're playing well and our confidence is good," Weller said. "(Center) Belinda Pearman is particularly playing up to her potential. We have to rely on our strengths (outside shooting and Lytle penetrating). We've been to the final four twice in five years, so that's not our goal. Our goal is to win it."
The winner will play the survivor of the game between host Penn State, ranked 10th, and No. 5 Cheyney State. The East Region thus has four of the nation's top 10. Weller calls it "the toughest region I've ever seen."