2:00 PM ET, February 26, 2006
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- The defense was tested, their confidence augmented and their starters rested.If Maryland coach Brenda Frese wanted the ideal tuneup for the postseason, she couldn't have asked for a better opponent than Northern Colorado.Kristi Toliver scored 17 points, Crystal Langhorne had 16 and No. 4 Maryland completed the winningest regular season in school history by breezing to an 89-53 victory Sunday.Laura Harper scored 14 points, Shay Doron added 13 points and Marissa Coleman had 10 rebounds for the Terrapins (26-3), who have won four straight and 12 of 13.Having already shattered the school record for wins in the regular season (23, in 1988-89), Maryland now has its sights on breaking the single-season mark for total victories (29)."Like we told them in the locker room, I'm extremely proud of this team and what they've been able to accomplish," Frese said. "Everyone's playing their best, playing with confidence and hoping to build on the momentum that we've got here."Before playing Friday in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament as the No. 3 seed behind North Carolina and Duke, the Terrapins first had to get past Northern Colorado, which tested the Maryland defense by firing up 29 3-pointers (making eight)."I think it's great preparation for the NCAA Tournament," Frese said. "It was great for our post players, because they were often defending smaller players that can really shoot it. That's the kind of practice we needed."The Terrapins built a 21-point halftime lead and increased the margin to 40 with 13 minutes left before Frese went deep into her bench."We played with a lot of energy and really worked to try to get better," she said. "It's nice to be able to play everyone, have everyone contribute and get some rest heading into the ACC tournament."Jabrenta Hubbard scored 18 and Danielle Hagen had 13 for Northern Colorado (13-15), playing its third season in Division I."They're just too big and strong for us, especially inside," Bears coach Ron Vlasin said. "We just tried to pack the inside, keeping Langhorne and company from banging us to death."It didn't work: Maryland finished with a 50-35 rebounding advantage.After going up 49-28 at the break, the Terrapins needed less than seven minutes of the second half to double the margin. Toliver, with 11 points, was the main force behind a 26-4 blitz that made it 75-32.Maryland then coasted to the finish, putting the lid on a remarkable regular season."We feel proud. We worked really hard," Doron said. "But it's a new season now. What we did in the past put us in good position to compete for a championship, but now we have to focus on our future."Frese started the two lone seniors on the squad, seldom-used forwards Angel Ross and Charmaine Carr. Both played six minutes and left with the Terrapins trailing 8-7.The game turned immediately thereafter. Jade Perry came off the bench and scored in the lane, sparking a 10-0 run that enabled Maryland to take control. Coleman and Toliver had three points apiece in the surge, which Perry concluded with a layup.It was 19-14 before Coleman sank a 3, Harper made two free throws, Langhorne tallied five straight points and Harper added a foul shot for a 16-point cushion. Then, after Hubbard hit a 3-pointer, Harper scored five points in a 10-2 spree that made it 40-19.