Sparked by a decision Maryland women's basketball coach Chris Weller and her staff made before the season started, the Terrapins turned a four-point lead with 7 1/2 minutes to play into a 92-73 victory over Howard University last night at Cole Field House.

"We made a decision as a staff before the season that we were going to go for the win earlier in games," Weller said. "With the new intentional-foul rule, it's a lot harder to come from behind. We want to try to go into the last four minutes of games with the lead."

Thus, 6-foot-3 junior forward Vicky Bullett, who was benched after committing her fourth foul with 12:50 to play, and 6-3 sophomore center Christy Winters, who was benched after committing her fourth foul with 10:46 left, went back into the game with 8:28 remaining and Maryland leading, 67-59.

Howard almost immediately pulled to within 67-63. However, the Terrapins (4-0) then scored 25 of the game's next 33 points and led, 92-71, with 24 seconds to play.

Maryland, which shot 70 percent from the field in the second half, was led by guard Deanna Tate, who had a game-high 24 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals in 30 minutes. Bullett scored 20 points, Winters scored 14. Guards Lisa Brown (13 points) and Carla Holmes (11 points) each had six assists.

The Bison (5-3), led by forward Darlene Beale (21 points, 10 rebounds), had gotten 21 offensive rebounds and made 27 of 61 field goal attempts prior to Maryland's final run. They got just one offensive rebound and made just three of 14 field goal attempts during it.

"For us to play that well for the first 30 minutes and then fall apart like that in the final 10 makes no sense," said Howard Coach Sanya Tyler, whose team took 16 more shots than Maryland, but made five fewer baskets. "That just shows a lack of discipline."

It also shows the Bison, whose four-game winning streak ended, may have been worn down as much by their schedule as by the Terrapins. Howard has played eight games in 13 days -- all on the road. The Bison played games in a tournament at Minnesota on Nov. 27 and 28. They played at Duke on Nov. 30 and at North Carolina State on Dec. 1. They played in a tournament in Gary, Ind., last Friday and Saturday and at American University on Monday.

"Maybe it is fatigue," Tyler said. "But that's no excuse. We let Maryland play the game they had to play."

For the Terrapins, that game was minimizing Howard's inside strength while maximizing their speed and quickness. But in the first half and the early stages of the second, it didn't work out that way.

Howard built up a 16-6 advantage in offensive rebounding and a 36-34 advantage on the scoreboard by halftime. Then with Beale, Vanessa Graham (17 points) and Lisa Lewis scoring all but two of their first 27 second-half points, the Bison recovered from a 65-54 deficit with 10:31 to play to make it 67-63 with 8:06 left.

UDC 103, Fayetteville St. 63: Malissa Stephenson scored a game-high 35 points and three other Firebirds placed in double figures as UDC (5-1) easily handled the Broncos (0-6) at home. Nikki Williams scored 15 points, Angela Williams 13 and Casie Dunmore 12 for the Firebirds. Sheila Seward led the Broncos with nine points.

Marymount 92, Gallaudet 69: Teresa Owen scored 18 points and Marlene Grimes had 16 as the Saints (6-1) won their fourth straight game and 14th straight at home. The Bison, who fell to 2-6, were led by Deb Anderson's 17 points. Connie Franks added 12 points for Gallaudet.