When Coach Frese subbed Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman out of this evening's game with 1:42 remaining, the score was Kristi & Marissa 58, Duke 57. Even Duke Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie was in awe of their performance, remarking in the postgame news conference: "I don't think I've ever seen a stat sheet with 34 and 24 (points) from two guard spots. That's pretty remarkable and obviously speaks to some pretty nice things that they did . . . " And when the buzzer sounded shortly after KT and 'Rissa left the game, the final score was 77-59. The Terps did not just beat the Blue Devils today, they made a statement.
In the first half, Duke kept the game close, and even took a slim 2-point lead into the locker room (33-31). But that was actually good news for Maryland, as their "big girl" Lynetta Kizer spent the last 6-1/2 minutes of the half on the bench, having picked up 2 fouls. The fact that our 6'4" freshman star (whose primary job was to contain Duke's senior 6'5" post, Chante Black) was on the sidelines, and the Terps didn't really lose ground during that time, boded very well for the second half. The BasketCases weren't worried. We just knew the Terps would erase that small deficit.
And, as it turned out, we were right (!) not to be worried. Maryland charged out of the locker room, laying a 10-0 run on the Dukies . . . and then never looked back! Duke responded with a mini-run, but the Terps stepped up their game again, and just kept charging ahead, building as much as a 20-point lead.
Although KT and Marissa did the lion's share of the scoring, today's HUGE win wasn't all about offense, or all about the seniors. As we mentioned, Lynetta Kizer had the daunting task of defending Duke's star center (and WNBA first round prospect), Chante Black . . . and did a terrific job! And while 'Netta was busy defending, Dee Liles was busy crashing the boards (11 rbs). Plus, both frontcourt players made it very difficult for any Duke player to get to the rim, as Lynetta (4) and Dee (3) combined for 7 blocks. Meanwhile Marah Strickland was all over Duke senior Abby Waner, who was held to a measly 5 points. Marah always draws a tough defensive assignment for the Terps. And tonight it appeared she was relishing this one. We could practically read her thoughts at times: "Abby, I own you." Tonight being Oscar night, we would have a hard time selecting a best supporting player . . . so the award goes to all 3 underclassmen starters.
Wow! Did we mention that the second half of today's game was one of the most fun and satisfying 20 minutes of basketball that we've ever seen? Well, if we didn't, we should have; it was!
With her scoring today, Marissa became only the 8th player in ACC history to notch 2,000 points and pull down 1,000 rebounds. She can play! And in scoring her game-high 34 points, Kristi hit seven 3-pointers . . . one shy of her career high. But this time, her output came against a team that prides itself on its defensive prowess. Make that they can play!
By the way, Mr. "She Can Play" himself, Damien Horne, was in the house, clearly enjoying the game. He confessed to the BasketCases that he's a Tarheels fan (so he probably didn't enjoy that other game Saturday night). But any 'Heels fan loves any team that beats up on the Dookies! So after the game, he was headed to the Terps' locker room to sing for the winners. (We can't wait to see it on next week's Under the Shell!)
And, of course, with the victory today, the Terps' 2nd-best-in-the-nation winstreak lives on at 33!
Congratulations to Coach Frese, her staff and the players . . . as 2 of the 16,344 people in the house (5th largest crowd in ACC history!), on behalf of Terps fans everywhere, thank you . . . that was sweeeet!
Photo Credit: DC BasketCases