Penn State holds off rally by Maryland, wins, 75-70


COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland women's basketball team came into Cole Field House last night looking for its second straight victory over a highly ranked opponent.

In the end, though, it was the No. 24 Terps and not second-ranked Penn State who were upset. After twice cutting a 15-point deficit with a little less than seven minutes left to three, Maryland couldn't get any closer and lost, 75-70.

Thus, Maryland (13-7) was unable to do to the Nittany Lions what it had done to then-No. 3 North Carolina State on Saturday. Two double-digit runs by Penn State (16-1), one in each half, eventually did in the Terps.

The first, a 15-0 spurt midway through the opening half, erased what had been a 26-18 lead by Maryland. The Terps fell behind twice by nine before cutting their deficit to 42-38 at halftime.

But the second scoring binge, a streak of 14 straight points by Penn State in a 21-3 run, did the most damage to Maryland. The Nittany Lions erased Maryland's 49-46 lead and led by 67-52 with minutes, 40 seconds remaining.

"I feel you can see the experience on their team," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "They got some critical rebounds that kept them alive. That was the difference in the game."

To its credit, Maryland came back, twice cutting Penn State's lead to three, the second time at 71-68 with 1:40 remaining. Suddenly, it appeared that the Terps were on the verge of their second straight upset.

But on what turned out to be the most crucial possession of the game, Penn State's Kathy Phillips scored on a rebound basket of her own miss and the fourth shot by the Lady Lions in the sequence.

"Half the bench was yelling for her to bring it back out, and the other half was yelling for her to put it back it," said Penn State coach Rene Portland. "She made the right decision after she made the basket."

"That was the game," said Weller, whose team was out-rebounded, 52-38.

Susan Robinson led the Lady Lions with 19 points, but more importantly added a career-high 18 rebounds. Bonnie Rimkus scored 17 points for Maryland, but leading scorer Jessie Hicks was held to just seven points.

"They really didn't do anything," said Hicks, who was limited to 3-for-8 shooting. "They pinched in some, but it was about my concentrating and staying low."

Penn State forced the Terps to shoot from outside. Maryland was only three of nine on three-point tries. One of the misses was critical, a shot to tie by Estelle Christy with the Terps trailing, 69-66. The ball hit both the back and front of the rim before bouncing away.

The victory was the fifth straight for Penn State since its lone defeat of the season. The loss ended a three-game winning streak for Maryland. The Terps also had won eight of their past nine games coming in.

"That was a big win for us," said Portland, whose team was No. 1 for a week this season before losing to Rutgers earlier this month. "We had not played well against Maryland the past few years."

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