Fatigued Terrapins Grit Through 90-77 Win Over Pittsburgh Panthers
#15 Laura Harper shoots and scores her 1,000th point as a Terrapin with 16:41 remaining in the second half. Harper becomes the 24th player in Maryland history to reach the 1,000 point mark along with teammates Crystal Langhorne and Marissa Coleman. Christopher Blunck/DC Sports Box
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Returning from a two game swing on the West Coast where Maryland battled UCLA and UC Santa Barbara the Terps returned home this evening to face regional challenger Pittsburgh in front of a home crowd.  Crystal Langhorne returned to the court for her second game since an ankle injury benched the star senior for 5 games and scored her first double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds.  The Terps have now had a player in the double-double category in 8 of their 9 games this season.

Laura Harper made the Maryland recordbook with 16:41 remaining in the second half when her layup pushed her past the 1,000 point mark.  She became the 24th Maryland player to pierce the 1,000 point plateau and joins fellow current teammates Crystal Langhorne and Marissa Coleman. Kristi Toliver is also just 23 points shy of crossing the 1,000 threshold, which would mean that 4 Maryland starters are in the 1,000+ point category.

"It's extremely special," said Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese about Harper's record.  "Laura missed most of her freshman campaign.  To be able to come out and do what she's been able to do in 2 1/2 seasons is truly remarkable.  She plays with so much passion, loves the game, and is never going to miss an opportunity.  Even tonight, as tired as she was, came out and played inspired.  I'm really proud of her."

After winning the opening tip, The Terps jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead within the opening 3 minutes.  On the opening possession Laura Harper dished to Marissa Coleman who hit the open jumper.  Crystal Langhorne followed it up with a layup and a jumper, and Marah Strickland sunk a three pointer to give the Terps the opening drive.
 
The Terps extended their lead to as many as 18 points with 10:45 to play in the first half when fatigue set in.  A 13-4 run by the Pittsburgh Panthers showed how playing 6 games in 11 days, including 2 hard fought games on the West Coast, can wear a team down.

"We looked like we're on a WNBA whirlwind tour with the schedule we're playing," remarked Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese.  "We let the fatigue factor play into our hands tonight."

With 22 turnovers and 21 personal fouls the Terrapins played a game that can only be described as ragged.  Maryland sent the Panthers to the line only 8 times in the first half and 13 times in the second. Pittsburgh was equally loose and the Terps were able to force 13 turnovers and 25 personal fouls.  Coach Frese remarked "Pitt played with a lot of energy and poise and really took it to us."

Up by 16 points at the half the Terps were far from a clearcut victory.  Pittsburgh kept the fight in them all through the second half and challenged the Terps on both ends of the court.  The Panthers outscored the Terps 49-46 in the second half, and nearly equaled the Terps in rebounding (grabbing 16 boards compared to the Terps' 19).

Maryland's lead dwindled to 8 points with 13:14 remaining but the Terps were able to recover to a 20 point lead with just over 3 minutes remaining.  The comeback was based heavily on solid free throw shooting from Marissa Coleman, Laura Harper, and Kristi Toliver, who combined for 15 good free throws during the stretch.

"Being able to see us grit this one out was nice to see," said Coach Frese in regards to fighting through this game for a win.  Maryland has faced 9 teams in 18 days including two top-25 ranked teams and two west coast teams.  "We put this schedule together because we wanted to be challenged," said Coach Frese.  "We wanted to have the best non-conference schedule to get us prepared for our conference play and the NCAA tournament.  Through this stretch we're going to come out of it even better."

Maryland takes it's first day off tomorrow but will return for practice on Thursday in order to prepare for Friday evening's game against #16 Ohio State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.  The game starts at 7pm and is played at the Comcast Center in College Park MD.