There were times last night when Southern California's Cheryl Miller received louder applause than the home team -- the Maryland Terrapins.
The 900 at Cole Field House that came to watch the championship game of the Maryland Invitational just couldn't resist, as Miller, the most valuable player, scored 36 points to lead the seventh-ranked Trojans to a 76-54 victory.
Miller also had 13 rebounds and seven steals, most of which came off a full-court press that frustrated the Terrapins.
It was the first real test of the season for the Terrapins (3-1), who shot 42 percent from the field and committed 25 turnovers. Carolin Dehn-Duhr was the high scorer for Maryland with 13 points.
"I'm pleased with our team's performance," said Maryland Coach Chris Weller. "We kept the game at our tempo for most of the game. We kept it slow, but I would have liked it much slower. If we had kept it to a 10-point lead with five minutes to go, I think we would have had a chance."
The turning point appeared to be when freshman guard Deana Tate, who had 23 points Friday night and was handling USC's press well, picked up her second foul five minutes into the game. At that point, the Terrapins were up by 10-6, and not at all intimidated by USC.
"That hurt us badly," said Weller. "We're too young. We have a freshman leave the game, and we have to go to freshman subs."
Tate's replacement, Zorana Radovic, lost the ball to the press, and Holly Ford converted a 20-footer to bring USC to within 10-8. After Maryland was called for a five-second violation trying to inbound the ball, Cynthia Cooper (13 points) made a 10-footer and Ford two free throws to give the Trojans their first lead, 12-10. Maryland called time out with 12:54 left.
Dehn-Duhr scored inside to tie it, but Miller drove for a layup. USC outscored the Terrapins, 9-2, behind Miller's steal and three-point play and Cherie Nelson's steal and layup.
In the consolation game, Terri Mohr had 20 points, making nine of 12 shots, to lead St. Joseph's (1-1) to a 85-44 victory over Bucknell (1-3). American 67, GW 58: The Eagles outscored the Colonials, 37-28, in the second half to pull away.
Kia Cooper led American (2-0) with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman forward Kelly Lane had 10 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Kelly Ballentine scored 18 points and Kas Allen had 14 points and nine rebounds for George Washington (3-1). Duke 85, George Mason 66: Chris Moreland, formerly of Mount Vernon High, had 26 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Blue Devils at Mason. The Patriots (1-3) were led by Wanda Williams' 15 points. UDC 77, Fayetteville St. 73: Tracy Walton had 15 points and Charlene Johnson scored 18 points, leading the Firebirds (2-0) to victory in the championship game of the UDC Tip-Off Classic. Howard 74, St. Francis 56: Darlene Beale scored 21 points and got 20 rebounds to pace the Bison (2-2) in the consolation game of the Iona tournament. Gallaudet 82, Delaware Valley 62: Sara Wummer scored 21 points and Angela Kuehn had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Bison (2-2) in the final of the Gallaudet Invitational.