Traveling to the cold state of Massachusetts, the Terps were a confident group heading into the Monday night matchup versus the beloved Boston College Eagles.
Maryland (19-4, 7-2 ACC) has moved up two spots in the national AP poll this week.
The Terps are now ranked 11th in the nation after surviving a scare from the Florida State Seminoles (72-71 UMD win) and hitting everything but the kitchen sink in their last victory over the emotionally drained North Carolina State Wolfpack, 87-66.
During pre-game warmups, senior guard Kristi Toliver was grinning like a Cheshire cat.
It was as if she knew what was going on and didn’t want to let anyone else in on the joke.
Turns out, she was right.
She and her tag team partner Marissa Coleman combined to score 42 of Maryland’s 85 total points.
Toliver (19 points, seven assists) made the hardest passes look easy, finding freshman center Lynetta Kizer (16 points, seven rebounds) down on the block for several layups.
But it was Coleman’s performance that kept Maryland on their winning track.
After shooting at least 200 free throws in her team’s last practice, Coleman went 10-for-10 from the charity stripe.
Her teammates were pleased her hard work paid off.
After the final buzzer had sounded, she was smothered in high-fives and given praise from her coach for her dedication to the small stuff that can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
“They (Coleman and Toliver) just continue to put this team on their back,” said coach Brenda Frese. “I thought they did a phenomenal job keeping us composed, having great confidence in their teammates.”
The women’s team relies on rotating the ball from the outside of the shooting lanes and being very patient in the offensive zone, as they wait for the defender to make a commitment.
Frese institutes a very balanced game plan.
Five different players scored in double figures.
Teams have to find their niche, and Maryland has found what works for them.
The Lady Terrapins have a history of success in Boston.
They are 8-0 lifetime versus the Boston College Eagles.
Kristi Toliver is always happy to play there.
“Boston is my favorite place to play to come. I wish we could play here every game.”
The Boston College Eagles (17-7, 5-4 ACC) equaled Maryland’s intensity throughout most of the game.
It was a see-saw battle of physical play from the Eagles’ post players, who thwarted the Terrapins’ ability to extend their lead.
Boston College has one of the tallest starting rotations in the ACC.
6'6" Carolyn Swords (who leads the country in field goal percentage) and 6'4" Stefanie Murphy wreaked havoc whenever Kizer or Dee Liles (12 points, seven rebounds) penetrated in the lane.
Swords scored 19 points to the lead the Eagles on 9-for-13 shooting.
The size advantage was obvious, as the Eagle guards simply lofted the ball over the heads of the Maryland players and fed Swords for some quick buckets.
Besides countering the Eagles’ offensive attack with her versatile forwards, Maryland coach Brenda Frese put in little-used freshman Yemi Oyefuwa to contend with Swords.
Her logic was that Kizer and Liles needed to preserve their personal fouls.
Maryland could give Oyefuwa some valuable court experience while keeping the core players around for the end of the game.
Down the stretch, it was the senior leadership of Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver that wore down the Eagles’ fighting spirit.
In the final six minutes before the break, Maryland went on a 17-7 run.
Coleman and Toliver scored 14 of those points and helped their team to a 46-41 halftime lead.
Maryland led 76-64 with five minutes and 40 seconds remaining in the game after scoring six straight points off offensive rebounds.
But over the next two minutes, Boston College went on a 9-0 run of their own, as Maryland took just one shot and committed two turnovers.
Liles converted a layup off of a great entry pass from Toliver to make it 78-73.
Boston College called a timeout with just over a minute to play.
Instead of using the 35 seconds on the clock to get a higher percentage shot, Boston College forced a designed three-pointer that missed and never got close enough to spook Maryland’s talented seniors.
Toliver sank a three-pointer right in front of Carolyn Swords with 45.5 seconds left to set up another fantastic finish for the fearless ladies.
Coleman iced the win with her free throws.
“That’s what we thrive off of, playing in situations like that, when it comes down to the wire and you have their home fans against you,” Coleman said. “Kristi and I are just used to it. I think when Kristi and I play composed and confident it feeds off to the rest of the team. They’re looking to us as their leaders.”
Boston College, in its fourth season in the ACC, has not had a winning record within the conference.
They have lost three straight games to nationally ranked opponents (Duke, Florida State, and Maryland).
Maryland’s next game is at home on Thursday, Feb. 12 against the Virginia Cavaliers.
Maryland lost their first meeting in Charlottesville, 89-81.
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