Feb. 24, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland bid farewell to its seniors in a ceremony that produced tears from five players who have helped bring the program back to national prominence.
Then the Terrapins had to play a basketball game, and that nearly ruined the afternoon.
Kristi Toliver scored eight of her 24 points in overtime and No. 4 Maryland rallied to beat Florida State 92-84 on Sunday to finish 19-0 at home.
The Terrapins (28-2, 12-1 ACC) trailed 73-65 with 2:59 left in regulation before storming back to win their sixth straight before 16,135. Maryland committed 23 turnovers and blew an 11-point lead in the second half but made up it with a strong finish.
At the start, however, the Terps simply couldn’t turn all their attention toward beating Florida State.
“I definitely think the emotion played a part,” senior forward Laura Harper said. “This day means so much to us and this program. But Senior Day is not going to be Senior Day if we don’t win the game.”
After Marissa Coleman’s driving layup with 4.9 seconds remaining forced overtime, the Terrapins fell behind 81-78. Toliver hit a 3-pointer and Crystal Langhorne made a layup to put Maryland up 83-81, and after the Seminoles got within a point, Marah Strickland scored in the lane and Toliver made two free throws to make it 89-84 with 55 seconds to go.
Langhorne, who had her No. 1 hung from the rafters after the game, finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Harper contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Coleman had 13 points and nine rebounds.
It was the fifth time the Terrapins finished undefeated at home, the first since 1988-89. Maryland had never won more than 15 home games in a single season.
Coach Brenda Frese made her first appearance on the sidelines after giving birth to twins on Feb. 17. She didn’t coach the first half, but returned after the break to guide the team from an oversized chair at the end of the bench while assistant Daron Park roamed the sidelines.
Mara Freshour led Florida State (16-11, 6-6) with 23 points and Shante Williams scored 14 to become the 21st woman in FSU history to reach the 1,000 mark. But the Seminoles couldn’t win despite taking 26 more shots than Maryland, mainly because the Terrapins’ upperclassmen carried the day.
“Those seniors have really changed the face of Maryland basketball,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “Those five seniors have gotten their program back to a place where there’s a lot of respect, not only in the ACC but nationwide.”
Strickland launched the comeback in regulation with two free throws, and Langhorne hit two more to get the Terrapins to 73-69. It was 75-70 before Coleman made a fadeaway jumper, and a driving layup by Toliver made it 75-74 with 35 seconds to go.
After Alysia Harvin made one of two foul shots for the Seminoles, Coleman connected to force overtime.
“We were playing tentative,” Semrau said. “I thought we backed off a little bit and gave them the opportunity to make that final shot.”
The Terrapins committed 16 turnovers in the first half, including seven in the opening seven minutes.
Langhorne scored 8 points in a 17-7 run that enabled Maryland to turn a 32-31 halftime lead into a 49-38 advantage, but the Seminoles answered with a 14-0 spree in which five different players scored.