Maryland finally beat Duke at home tonight, a rousing game between rivals since the 06' title match that was close until the closing minutes. The final score was 85-70. If you didn't see it, take a watch.
I think that some people might remember that Maryland hasn't won a home game against Duke in a long time, but you might be surprised to learn that it's been a full decade since the Lady Terps won one in front of their own fans. That's before Comcast was even built!
Don't be fooled by the score; it was an extremely tight game that I hope a few of you watched on ESPN2 (at the very least). Definitely one of the more spirited games I've attended, as well. The crowd of 15,531 was armed with glowsticks and standing up and screaming an awful lot. Even though the game didn't sell out, Brenda Frese should have been pleased with the turnout. I was surprised as well by the number of elementary-aged young ladies that seemed to pack the stands - in some sections, it looked more like a Girl Scout Convention than a basketball game. I toned down my profanity a bit.
In terms of gameplay, it was everything it was billed to be. I thought Maryland was going to run away with it, and at first they did, outscoring the Blue Devils 17-4 in the opening minutes. But Duke's tough defense really kept them in the game. They held Crystal Langhorne, the woman I proclaimed to be the greatest Terp ever (and I still think it's worth arguing), to a relatively quiet night of 16 points and 7 boards (8 points were off of free throws). Props to Chante Black, who covered No. 1 for most of the night. It was obvious, as Maryland's lead fluctuated and even disappeared temporarily, that good interior defense can beat the Terps (think back to Rutgers). Very physical, as well, with 28 personal fouls on Duke and 19 on Maryland. Lots of frustration and emotion on both sides.
But the difference-maker was Marissa Coleman. Duke had absolutely no answer for her, and she went off - 30 pts, 6 rbs, 3 blocks and 4 steals. 4-for-5 from three-point range. Only one turnover. She alone compensated for the foul trouble on Laura Harper and stretches when Kristi Toliver and Langhorne were stifled by the Duke defenders. Next year, when she's out of Langhorne's shadow, she'll be mentioned in the same breath as Candice Parker when women's bball analysts (like Bill Cowher) are talking about the most versatile players in the country. In my mind, she's in that class.
Candace Parker: 20.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 40.0% 3FG
Marissa Coleman: 15.4 ppg, 8.1 rbg, 3.1 apg, 39.7% 3FG (Before Duke game stats)
Now let's remember that Coleman plays for a team with 3 other scorers who average over 14ppg, while Parker is the unquestioned leader and scores almost 10 ppg more than her other teamates because she has to. Parker has a clear advantage in the post (33 blocks) but Coleman is usually asked to defend the perimeter anyway - next season she'll probably play the post more often. Next year, whether or not Toliver or Coleman is the alpha dog, I think you will see many of Coleman's stats go up. Then she and Parker probably won't look so different after all.
Good win for the ladies. A statement has been made. Maybe Abby Waner would like to write about it in her ESPN diary. Serves you right, Dookie.
Photo Credits: Baltimore Sun