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Maryland struggles early, pulls away from upset-minded Coppin St.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Maybe it was the two-week layoff after the ACC tournament. Perhaps it was the physical play, or plain old overconfidence.

Whatever the reason, Maryland looked nothing like a top seed Sunday while struggling past Coppin State, 80-66, in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

Playing at home against the 16th-seeded team in the Spokane Regional, the Terrapins trailed 20-15 with nine minutes elapsed, led by only five points at halftime and by 45-41 with 17 minutes to go.

"We didn't want this to be our last game. That's all we kept saying," Maryland's Marissa Coleman said. "We knew if we let them be close toward the end, we would be in for a battle."

The Terrapins used runs of 10-0 and 11-1 to pull away, but if this served as a wake-up call to Maryland, then the alarm clock was the size of Big Ben.

"They did a tremendous job in terms of their scouting. I thought they were very physical and very aggressive, and did a tremendous job for 40 minutes," Terps coach Brenda Frese said. "They really made us work."

Maryland's performance was uninspired, unimpressive and hardly worthy of a team that spent the entire season ranked in the top five.

"In the first half they were definitely the aggressor," guard Kristi Toliver said. "Credit to them for putting us out of our comfort zone."

Crystal Langhorne had 25 points and 12 rebounds, Coleman scored 17 and Laura Harper had 14 for the Terrapins (31-3), who will face No. 8 seed Nebraska on Tuesday.

Coppin State made more field goals (27-24) that the Terrapins, had fewer turnovers (16-15) and played with far more fervor. Were it not for a 28-10 advantage at the foul line and a 42-26 rebounding edge, Maryland might have joined the 1998 Stanford squad as the only top seed to get bounced from the tournament by a No. 16.

"We just fell a little short," Coppin coach Derek Brown said.

Rashida Suber scored 25 points and Shalamar Oakley had 20 for Coppin State, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions. The Eagles are now 0-12 against in-state rival Maryland, but they didn't hang their heads after this one.

"We never backed down," Suber said.

Everything seemed to be going according to form in the opening minutes, when Coleman and Langhorne dominated the paint to stake the Terps to a 15-6 lead. The Eagles had already burned a timeout in an effort to blunt the onslaught, even though it appeared to many in the crowd to be a futile gesture.

Then everything went askew. It began with an innocent layup by Suber. Then Oakley made two free throws, and by the time those two got finished playing this little round of 2-on-5, they had combined for 14 straight points.

That in itself would have made for a nice story, but the Eagles held Maryland without a field goal for the final three minutes of the half and reached the break down 40-35.

"We know we're going to get everybody's best game no matter who we're playing. It's the NCAA tournament," Coleman said. "We have been in his situation before. We knew we had another 20 minutes to make up for our mistakes in the first half."

But Coppin came out strong in the second half. A runner in the lane by Oakley got the Eagles to 45-41, and at that point the only fans making noise were the ones who traveled 30 miles from Baltimore to cheer for Coppin.

Then Harper made two free throws and Toliver hit to spark a 10-point run. The Eagles closed to 57-48, but their upset bid was finally quashed by an 11-1 spurt that put the Terps up by 18.