GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Laura Harper had 17 points to help No. 4
Maryland end a 14-game losing streak to second-ranked Duke with a
78-70 victory Saturday in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast
Conference women's tournament.
Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver each scored 16 points for the
Terrapins (28-3), who advanced to Sunday's final against No. 1
North Carolina. Earlier this season, they gave the Tar Heels their
only loss in a thrilling game that was decided in overtime.
Perhaps that can satisfy fans who were hoping to see a fifth
consecutive North Carolina-Duke matchup for the ACC championship in
the heart of Tobacco Road. This will be Maryland's first chance at
a tournament title since losing to Virginia 106-103 in triple
overtime 13 years ago.
Monique Currie finished with 18 points but couldn't stop the
Blue Devils (26-3) from failing to advance to the final for the
first time in seven years. Lindsey Harding had 16 points.
Maryland appeared in command after a 15-4 run early in the
second half, and Coleman was the spark. She had a 3-pointer and
another jumper before dribbling through a double team for a
twirling layup. When Jade Perry worked inside for another basket,
the Terrapins led 53-38.
Slowly, Duke came back, with a switch from its man-to-man
defense to a zone trap. Toliver, Maryland's freshman point guard,
had trouble finding open teammates to start the offense, and five
straight possessions ended in turnovers.
The Blue Devils turned almost all of them into points on the
other end. Currie made a 3, then converted a steal by Wanisha Smith
into a three-point play. Smith's long pass led Currie perfectly,
and after scoring, she leaped to bump chests with Smith.
And Duke wasn't finished. Smith got a nifty feed from Harding on
an in-bounds play to make it 16 unanswered points, and suddenly,
the Terrapins trailed 54-43.
Crystal Langhorne quickly put them back in front, Harper had
five points in less than 60 seconds and Langhorne worked free again
in the paint to help Maryland resume control. The Blue Devils only
got as close as six points down the stretch.
The outcome might have been enough to give the Terrapins a No. 1
seed in the NCAA tournament, while Duke can only hope the committee
rewards it for another stellar regular season.