The University of Maryland female gymnastics team couldn't overcome a 2.7-point deficit entering the final rotation of the State Games and placed second behind Towson State University yesterday at Cole Field House.

Maryland led after the first rotation with strong vaults from sophomore transfer Dana Walton (9.35), Shannon Mastrogianis (9.2) and Vicky Volentine (9.2). But the Terrapins quickly lost their narrow .95-point lead in the second rotation, seven falls from the uneven bars reducing their score to 42.45 for that event.

The performance on the bars displaced them from the lead for the rest of the competition as Towson State (16-0) took command.

"Our goal was to stay under six drops in the 24 possible routines and break the 180-point barrier," said Maryland Coach Bob Nelligan. "I'm really upset. We're not a young team, but it seemed that as soon as one fell everyone started going over the cliff."

After having beaten archrival North Carolina last week, the Terrapins seemed to be gaining momentum for an NCAA championship bid. Now, they will need exceptional performances in their upcoming away meet at Florida and in home meets against top-ranked Georgia, Louisiana State and North Carolina State, and again in their final home meet March 26 against North Carolina and North Carolina State for the ACC championships.

Maryland's only loss in 11 previous matches came at the hands of Penn State in the first week of January, by .45.

"I guarantee you a knockdown, drag-out Monday practice," Nelligan said. "At Florida there will be 6,000 or 7,000 people and TV there and that's a whole different ball game."

In the State Games, Walton placed third on the vault, Stephanie Young was second on the uneven bars with 9.3 and Mastrogianis placed second on the balance beam with 9.35. Mastrogianis won the floor exercise with 9.55 while teammates Walton, Robin Swick and Yvonne Raner tied for third at 9.4.

Team scoring was Towson State 181.95, Maryland 179.95, UMBC 168.95. Navy competed individually.