8:05 PM ET, December 6, 2006
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) -- Maryland's suffocating defense helped coach Brenda Frese enjoy a sweet return home.Kristi Toliver scored 15 points, Laura Harper had 13 and No. 1 Maryland closed the first half with a 20-0 run in a 77-33 romp of Northern Iowa on Wednesday night.Crystal Langhorne added 12 points for the Terrapins (11-0), off to their best start since winning their first 16 games of the 1982-83 season.Frese, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, about an hour south of the Northern Iowa campus, had a large contingent of family and friends wearing Maryland gear sitting behind the Terrapins' bench.Before the game, Northern Iowa athletic director Rick Hartzell read a proclamation from Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack recognizing Frese for her achievements and "her service to her sport and to Iowa." Northern Iowa coach Tony DiCecco presented the proclamation to Frese while the crowd stood and applauded."It's very special to be recognized and honored like that," said Frese. "I always feel very appreciated every time I come to Iowa."Northern Iowa (2-5), playing a No. 1-ranked team for the first time, kept it somewhat close for a while. But the Panthers shot 20.6 percent and never threatened after Maryland charged to a 35-8 halftime lead.The Terrapins forced the Panthers into 4-for-35 shooting in the first half and kept up the defensive pressure in the final 20 minutes."I'm really pleased with our defense," said Frese. Our focus has been to come out and guard for 40 minutes, especially with the way Northern Iowa shoots the ball."They intimidated the Northern Iowa players inside, deflected passes and generally made life miserable for their overmatched Missouri Valley Conference opponent. When the Panthers had open shots on the perimeter, they couldn't knock them down."The toughest part about it is we didn't shoot the ball very well," DiCecco said. "To be honest about it, we didn't shoot the ball at all. When we couldn't make shots, it snowballed on us."Despite its shooting woes, Northern Iowa hung with the Terrapins for the first 14 minutes. After Tara King and Kristyn Ferris scored on layups to draw UNI to 15-8, Frese called a timeout.Her team responded by scoring the next 20 points and looking more like the defending national champions."We weren't getting a lot of transition baskets," Toliver said. "We just started pushing the ball more and kept playing defense."Langhorne had eight points during the burst, including a pair of 3-point plays, and Toliver added seven. Toliver closed out the half with a 3-pointer, and the run grew to 22-0 when Harper scored inside to start the second half.A 13-0 run stretched the lead to 52-13 and by then, it was only a question of whether the Panthers would reach 30. They did when Megan Keefe scored with 3:20 left, making it 73-30.King led Northern Iowa with 10 points on 4-for-19 shooting."I loved the way we came out," DiCecco said. "I didn't think we were intimidated. I thought we played hard, I thought we competed. We just couldn't shoot it."Frese substituted liberally to avoid running up the score, but her options were limited with just nine players. Harper played only 15 minutes and no one played more than 28."I definitely think our size gave them problems," Langhorne said. "Our coaches stressed that. I think we used that to our advantage."
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