Maryland Seniors Lead Terps to Win over No. 2/3 UNC
Marissa Coleman (25) congratulates Kristi Toliver (20) after Toliver hit 2 consecutive 3-pointers during Maryland's 77-71 win over Virginia Tech at the Comcast Center in College Park MD on January 25, 2009. Christopher Blunck/DC Sports Box
COLLEGE PARK, MD.-Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver did exactly what Head Coach Brenda Frese expected her seniors to do in a big game against ACC rival North Carolina: deliver a win.

Senior Forward Marissa Coleman led an early charge for the Terps, scoring 10 quick points after just five minutes of play. Coleman’s early scoring run helped Maryland build an early 16 to 5 lead with just over 14 minutes left in the first half. The early run by Coleman not only helped to build Maryland’s lead, but also gave the Terps an early confidence boost against the Tar Heels. Coleman led all scorers at half time with 18 points.

Toliver led a similar scoring run in the second half for the Terps, scoring 13 points during what would become the decisive run of the game.

“It's just a special win to be led by our two seniors,” said Frese. “We even said that as coaches at halftime. Our seniors were going to win us this game and it's just a tremendous team win.”

The win improves Maryland’s record in ACC play to 4-1 and 16-3 overall. The win keeps the No. 12/13 Terrapins in the upper echelon of the ACC standings, trailing only Duke and Florida State.

The first half was a tale of scoring runs by each team. After the Terps built an early lead that was as high as 12, the Tar Heels came storming back, eventually tying the game midway through the first half on an 11-0 UNC run that made the score 19 all.

UNC then gained control of the game for a short period, as they built a four point lead. But again, one of Maryland’s senior players stepped up, as Coleman nailed a three point basket that cut the UNC lead back down to one. Both teams then traded baskets and the half ended in a 34-34 tie.

The second half saw both teams again trading baskets in the early going, while the lead for each team never seemed to never increase beyond one point. That all changed when Senior Kristi Toliver stepped up start what would be the decisive second half run for the Terps.

After struggling to shoot the ball in the first half, making only two of her first nine shots, Toliver caught fire in the second half, at one point making five straight shots.

Toliver’s scoring run began when she made back-to-back 3-pointers on two fast breaks. Both back-to-back fast breaks seemed identical, as Senior Guard Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood and Toliver sprinted down the court and both times Wiley-Gatewood drove towards the backed and dished out a no-look pass to Toliver, who twice nailed the 3-point shot from what seemed to be the same spot on the floor. The second three pointer pushed Maryland’s lead up to seven at 49-42. Toliver finished the night with a game-high 23 points, 18 of which came in the second half. Toliver’s four three-pointer in the game moved her into sixth place on the ACC”s All-Time three point scoring list.

"Kristi Toliver is a great player and when she gets hot, it is difficult to stop her," said UNC’s Italee Lucas, who was one of two UNC players who scored 13 points for the Tar Heels.

The large, very vocal crowd of 12,671 let out a huge roar after Toliver made both shots. The crowd was the10th-highest in Atlantic Coast Conference history

"This place was rocking,” said Head Coach Brenda Frese. “We have some of the greatest fans in the country. I know it gave us an extra boost of energy.”

Fellow senior, Coleman, finished just behind Toliver in scoring with 22 points and was also able to pull down 10 rebounds. With her 10 rebounds in the game, Coleman moved into second place in school history in rebounding, passing Vicky Bullett.

Junior Forward Demauria Liles also had a double-double, scoring 12 points while grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds. Freshman Center Lynetta Kizer just missed becoming the third Terps to record a double-double on the night, scoring 10 points while grabbing nine rebounds.

The Terps out rebounded the Tar Heels 51-38 on the night.

“I thought it was a game of runs. I thought Carolina did a tremendous job coming in here wanting to battle, but collectively, when we were able to get stops on defense and be able to convert it to our offense and then obviously dominate the glass, it allowed us to have a lot of success tonight,” said Frese

The story of the night might have been the fouls recorded by each team, as the Terps attempted 28 free-throws, while UNC only attempted nine. The disparity in fouls frustrated UNC’s Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell so much that the she was eventually issued a technical foul late in the second half.

“It takes a lot for me to get a technical, but I thought it was something I had to do,” Hatchell said.

UNC was lead by Jessica Breland’s 18 points and 12 rebounds. The Junior Forward hurt her knee in the second half and had to be carried off the court. She was unable to return to the game.

Not only were the Terps able to out-rebound the Tar Heels and get to the free throw line more, they were also able to always find the open player for a shot.

“Whoever has the hot hand, we're finding them,” said Coleman. “In the first half, it was me. In the second half, we were finding Kristi in the open spots. It's just credit to us and how we're coming together as a team."

The win breaks a three game losing streak for the Terps against North Carolina. The last time the Terps defeated UNC was their 81-70 win over the Tar Heels in the 2006 Final Four, on their road to winning the National Championship.

The win also improves the Terps home record this year at the Comcast Center to 8-0 and extends their home winning streak to 29 games, dating back to last season.

Game notes:

Both Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese and UNC Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell mourned the loss of NC State Head Coach Kay Yow during their press conference.

"Everyone in women's basketball has been impacted by coach Yow,” said Brenda Frese. “Every single person she met and touched, we all loved coach Yow.”

The Tar Heels honored Yow by wearing pink jerseys during the game. The Terps players wore their normal white jerseys, but wore a special pink warm-up shirt in honor of the former head coach and sister of Maryland’s Athletic Director, Dr. Debbie Yow.

The Terps’ next game is on Friday, January 30th, at 7:00 PM in Charlottesville against Virginia.