No. 2 Maryland Holds Off No. 7 Boston College, 93-81
March 7, 2008
By Steve Phillips
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Brenda Frese returned to Maryland's bench on a full-time basis Friday night. Based on the Terps' performance in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals, their coach has every reason to be glad she's back at work.
Fueled by 25 points from Laura Harper and 24 from ACC Player of the Year Crystal Langhorne, the second-seeded Terps took early control and held off seventh-seeded Boston College for a 93-81 win at the Greensboro Coliseum.
It was just the second non-home game since December for Frese, who gave birth to twin sons on Feb. 17 and was advised by doctors not to travel during her pregnancy.
"It was great to have her back," Langhorne said. "Even in the (home) games she coached us in before, she was sitting in a chair. It's great having her roaming the sidelines again. She brings a lot of energy."
Frese admitted to getting "a little winded" as she enthusiastically coaxed her team.
"I think I'm out of practice," she laughed.
Friday night's win was the ninth straight for Maryland (30-2), which faces the Florida State-Duke winner in Saturday's 3:30 semifinal game. The Terps will be playing in the semifinals for the fifth straight year.
BC guard Mickel Picco tied an ACC Tournament record by going 7-of-11 from 3-point range and led all scorers with 33 points- nearly 25 points higher than her scoring average entering the game.
"I didn't feel like I did anything special," Picco said. "I just let the flow of the game come to me and got into a good rhythm."
Picco's scoring outburst wasn't enough to offset the inside presence of Harper and Langhorne, who went a combined 19-of-21 from the floor. Harper was a perfect 8-of-8.
"Consistency and confidence," Frese replied when asked to lists Harper's main attributes. "She believes in herself every time. She's unstoppable when she puts her mind to it"
All five Maryland starters scored in double figures, and the Terps outrebounded the Eagles 33-17.
"Obviously, we're disappointed," said BC coach Cathy Inglese, whose team dropped a pair of 27-point decisions to Maryland during the regular season. "You look at our stats - we shoot 56 percent from the floor, 80 percent from the foul line and only turn the ball over only 13 times. You're going to beat a lot of teams in the country with those kinds of stats. But Maryland has so many weapons."
The Terps set an early tone by scoring on seven of their first eight possessions and rocketing to a 16-3 lead. Langhorne led the flurry with seven points and didn't let up until halftime. The senior forward had 16 points by the break, which found Maryland leading 48-29.
Despite the rocky start, BC made a brief bid to get back into the game. With Picco scoring 12 points in a span of just over eight minutes, the Eagles crept within 30-24 on Rebecca Miles' 3-point shot with 5:37 remaining in the opening half.
But Marah Strickland's 16-foot jumper and a three-point play by Marissa Coleman keyed a 9-0 counter run that produced Maryland's 19-point halftime lead.
BC closed to within 11 points in the early stages of the second half, prompting Frese to deliver an animated critique to her team during the first media timeout. The Terps got the message, and back-to-back 3-pointers by Kristi Toliver led another spurt that pushed Maryland's lead back to 20 points (67-47) with just over 13 minutes to play.
That still didn't finish off the Eagles, who trimmed the deficit to nine points twice in the final four minutes. But the uphill climb proved a bit too steep for the underdogs on Friday night.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed in the second half," Frese said. "But we knew Boston College wasn't going to quit. They've got a lot of pride and work extremely hard."
With a 20-11 record, the Eagles remain hopeful of participating in postseason play of some sort. Stefanie Murphy fought through foul trouble to score 12 points for BC on Friday night, and LaShaunda Pratt also added 12 for the Eagles.