Terrapins-Blue Devils: Maryland Wins First ACC Title Since 1989

Jennifer JohnsonAnalyst IMarch 9, 2009

It appears the only thing that will stop Maryland's winning ways is a natural disaster. No team can feel confident with these ladies looming on their radar.

Yesterday proved to me that the Terrapins have all the right moves to take their second NCAA title back to College Park.

ACC rookie of the year Lynetta Kizer secured the game’s most important rebound for the Lady Terrapins. After the Duke Blue Devils tied the game in regulation, on a three-pointer, all Kizer could think about was boxing out and holding onto the ball.

Mission accomplished.

The Lady Terrapins (28-4) completed their remarkable run through the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and defeated the Duke Blue Devils, 92-89, in overtime at Greensboro Coliseum.

More importantly, this glorious win gave Maryland its first ACC title since 1989. Their winning streak is now at a mystifying 12 games in a row.

Spectacular seniors Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver hugged at center court. This was their first ACC championship. It was in 2006, as freshmen, that the awesome duo guided the Terps to the NCAA Title. Perhaps these fine and fearless superstars have one more trophy to add to their case in 2009.

An always demonstrative Toliver had this to say about the day’s events:

“Shoot, all these freshmen just won an ACC tournament. So they’re going to think it’s easy!” said Toliver. “They haven’t necessarily had the same battles as Marissa and I have had. We knew what it was going to take. We are glad we finally did it.”

Toliver was informed late last week that she would be anointed the ACC Player of the Year.

Marissa Coleman was named MVP of this year’s tournament.

North Carolina and Duke have dominated this tournament in years past. The Tar Heels or Blue Devils have won the past nine titles. North Carolina had knocked Maryland out of contention two out of the past three years.

Maryland was not going to let it happen again.

They beat Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Duke on consecutive days and in dramatic fashion. Two out of these three games came down to the wire.

Wake Forest fell short of a first round upset of the Terrapins, 72-70.

Then, UNC made a valiant effort, but could stop the Maryland train of high-octane offense. The final score in this game was 95-84.

A major shout-out should go to all the red-clad supporters that traveled from the Washington DC Metro area to root for the hottest team in the country.

Despite playing with a cold all week, Toliver played every minute of the tournament final. Coleman did the same, and led the Terrapins with 28 points and 15 rebounds. Her average for the tournament was 23 ppg, 9.7 reb, and 4.3 assists.

Toliver scored 24 points, including the first nine points in overtime for her team.

Coleman hit the game’s decisive shot with 2:53 left to play in the extra period. She found wiggle room off a screen and nailed a three-pointer to put Maryland in front 88-87.

Maryland has incredible depth this year, and the young bloods have shown they can play under pressure too.

Kim Rodgers was sidelined last year with a devastating knee injury. She was not supposed to factor into this year’s tournament at all, but she fooled us all with her tremendous resolve. Rodgers scored 12 points and made two clutch free throws with 12.9 seconds left in overtime.

She averaged 10 PPG in the Terrapins’ three games. Coleman dubbed her the “hero of the tournamen.t"

Sophomore guard Marah Strickland missed 14 of her first 15 shots attempted at Greensboro Coliseum. She redeemed herself by sinking three three-pointers during a 21-9 run to increase Maryland’s second half lead to 10 points.

Junior Dee Liles grabbed 12 rebounds for the game, a stat usually reserved for Lynetta Kizer. Kizer was hampered by foul trouble, but still held Duke’s leading scorer, senior center Chante Black, to 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting.

Maryland uncharacteristically turned the ball over 19 times in this final fury.

They sustained their lead by shooting 46.9 percent from the field. The Terrapins finished 23 of 24 from the free throw line. Duke (26-5) held the Terrapins without a field goal over the final 2:10 of regulation.

The Blue Devils cut the lead down from six points, and were saved from elimination by Chante Black’s layup, with two seconds to go to tie the score at 81 apiece.

Kristi Toliver led Maryland to its first NCAA title win under Brenda Frese with a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer in overtime to stun the Blue Devils in 2006.

The setting for this feat was in Boston, Massachusetts.

Here, a championship was earned on enemy territory.

“Going into overtime, they were probably thinking the roles were reversed,” said an exuberant Coleman. “But Kristi and I knew different.  What a better way to win another championship than against Duke in overtime?  It’s definitely a fitting way to end this chapter of our careers.”


Maryland is expected to be given a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament when tournament bracket is announced on Mar. 16.


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