Coleman Serves As Houdini For A Night: Maryland Women Beat the Cavaliers, 86-80
#25 Marissa Coleman raises her fist in confidence after the Terrapins lock up Maryland's 86-80 Think-Pink Win over the Virginia Cavailier at the Comcast Center in College Park MD on February 8, 2008. Christopher Blunck/DC Sports Box
COLLEGE PARK, Md -- As we are down the home stretch of the season, the Maryland Terrapins are no doubt a force in women’s basketball, but on Friday night, they had their hands full with the Virginia Cavaliers at the Comcast Center.

Maryland won last night, 86-80, thanks to a comeback in the second half, and a combined team effort to hold off an extremely tough and aggressive Virginia team; however, the Terrapins needed everything they had in the arsenal to beat them.

With their 25th win last night, they were able to not only avert an upset, but also defeated a rival that played intense from pretty much tip-off to last the minute of the contest.

As Laura Harper perfectly summarized about Maryland’s play last night, “I think we are a very methodical team. We are structured and disciplined, so I think we always play the whole forty minutes with effort. We are going to play the first minute like the fortieth minute. We have that kind of experience and we try to bring that to every game.”

That notion willed Maryland to victory.

In a see-saw game from the onset, both teams ran up and down the floor and at the half, Maryland lead 37-36. Despite umpteen lead changes, Maryland shot 62 percent on the floor, contrasted with Virginia’s 38; however, the visitors had possession of the ball far more than the Terrapins due to a litany of turnovers thanks to their quick tempo on the floor.

Virginia led the way in the second half, mainly thanks to the hot hand of Paulisha Kellum who turned it on. She was woeful in the first portion of the game, but she led Virginia on a 15-2 run that caused those in attendance to gasp and wonder what was going on.

Kellum scored 23 points on Friday and an astonishing 21 in the second half.

Once you add the tough defense and incredibly physical play by Virginia which featured many dives, falls, along with players at times falling over one another, you had the feeling of a major conference upset.

However, Maryland struck back in a methodical, efficient manner that struck a nerve with the Cavaliers.

Down by eight at one point, the Terrapins chipped away at the lead in the mid-way portion of the second half.

Marisa Coleman served as the catalyst for the Terrapins with 21 points and led a critical 13-2 run in the second half.

Despite the march by Maryland, Kellum continued valiantly to being the Cavaliers back as they came within two with only a little more than three minutes left in the game; however, Crystal Langhorne hit a critical layup to put the Terrapins up by four and Laura scored two from the foul line to seal the deal.

They continued to have lead stand up in the final minute as they ended up at the foul line a handful of time.

The star of the game for Virginia, Paulisha Kellum said after the tough contest, “I felt like I owed them something because in the last game, I didn't play as well. I had about four points in the last minutes of the game, and I just feel like I owed them something. I kept attacking them, and that was the game plan.”

Maryland’s Laura Harper had had 25 points and 15 rebounds, Kristi Toliver had 16 points along with 12 assists as well some clutch shooting, and Crystal Langhorne contributed 17 points.

Virginia’s Aisha Mohammed scored 15, and Sharnee Zoll had 13.

After the game, Maryland coach Brenda Frese quipped about the Terrapins’ hard fought victory, “I thought we showed tremendous toughness along the stretch, especially in the second half --- I thought we did a much better job in the second half defensively and rebounding the ball. We were much smarter and more aggressive through the end of the game."

While the home team was confident and happy about the results of Friday night, the Cavaliers were disappointed with the loss; however, showed some satisfaction of keeping up with the Maryland.

Virginia Coach Debbie Ryan, despite the loss gave her team kudos as she said, “We were still in position to win the game almost right down to the end, so I can't ask any more of my players and I can't ask any more of my staff in terms of their preparation. Maryland played very well at the end, their size got to us toward the end of the game because we had to go small, but I still was very proud of our effort and the way we played this game."

Although Maryland won, the matchup against Virginia should serve as a harbinger of what’s to come in the ACC Tournament and the willingness of their rivals to take down the fourth racked team in the country.

Frese said about the competition in the conference, “I think it speaks to how good the ACC is. Every time you go out on the road you know it's going to be a battle. When you are playing a team like Virginia, they are red hot. They are eager to jump ahead of us, so you can't take anything for granted. You have to understand the dynamics and what teams are playing for, but at the end of the day you are playing against yourself."

The Maryland women take on Boston College on Valentine’s Day at home, as they have only four games left in the regular season before the march to the conference championships.