Toliver Sparks Terps to 74-69 Victory Over Middle Tennessee
#20 Kristi Toliver scores on a turnover late in the second half and sparks Maryland to a 74-69 win over Middle Tennessee at Comcast Center in College Park MD on December 5, 2007. Christopher Blunck/DC Sports Box
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Kristi Toliver lead the Terrapins this evening with 19 points and 6 assists, including a 3 pointer with 4:17 remaining in the game that allowed Maryland to regain a 64-62 lead.  Toliver then scooped up a missed 3 pointer by Middle Tennessee guard Johnna Abney and took it coast to coast to hit a pull-up jumper that ignited the Maryland offense.

"I wanted to turn it up a notch and play for my teammates and my coaches and play as hard as I could," remarked Maryland guard Kristi Toliver.  Toliver got off to a slow start, scoring an uncharacteristic 4 points and 1 assist in the first half, but finished strong with 10 points in the final 8 minutes.  She sunk a pair of free throws with 12 seconds remaining to give the Terps a 5 point lead and the game.

"Credit our upper classmen for understanding just how much effort it takes to win a college basketball game in less than ideal conditions," said acting Maryland Head Coach Daron Park.  "When you're facing adversity and things don't seem to be going your way you dig deeper. I feel like we did that tonight.  Our effort down the stretch tonight was sensational and absolutely the reason why we were able to come away with a victory tonight."

The Terps struggled to contain Middle Tennessee's three point shooting in the first half as the Blue Raiders sunk 7 of 23 three pointers. Although Maryland shot 48% from inside the arc and went 2-7 from three point territory the Terps played the Blue Raiders within a 5 point margin for the better part of the first half.  Whenever Maryland established a 5-8 point lead Middle Tennessee would counter with a 3 point basket to make the game close.
The second half was even tighter and the two teams knotted up 4 times. Rebounding was the #1 problem for the Terps as they were outmuscled 17-14 on the boards.  It came down to solid shooting for Maryland in order to edge out the win, and the Terps stepped up to go 16-25 (64%) on field goal attempts.

Maryland is closing in on a desperately needed break that will arrive on Sunday after their matchup with Temple.  At the conclusion of the Temple game the Terps will have played 14 games in 1 month, or roughly 1 game every other day.  This "whirlwind WNBA tour" (Brenda Frese) included the State Farm Classic, Preseason WNIT (which Maryland won), Big Ten/ACC challenge, and a trip to the west coast to play UCLA and UC Santa Barbara.

"We need time to practice", remarked Coach Park.  Between the travel and games Maryland has had few opportunities for drilling on fundamentals and developing the playbook.  The Terps have been focused on debriefing the previous game and preparing for the next game the following night.

Maryland's 68-60 road loss to Rutgers on Monday evening is evidence of both their extended tour of duty as well as a flu bug that has made it's way into the Terrapin locker room.  4 of the 5 starters this evening were under the weather and had to come out at various points in the game, and Brenda Frese delegated coaching responsibilities to Coach Park this evening.

With finals fast approaching the Terps will be granted a much needed break from the game court and will have a chance to drill on the practice court before starting back up after the Christmas Holiday.

Between now and December 9th's game with Temple the Terps must prepare for Northern Iowa.  The Panthers come to town on Friday evening to take on the Terps and then head north to battle UMBC on Sunday. Tickets are still available from the Terrapin Box Office.