Terp women hope sellout will crowd out apathy


The score books, newspapers and videotapes will record that the top-ranked Maryland women's basketball team dropped a heart-breaker and probably its No. 1 ranking to No. 2 Virginia on Tuesday night at Cole Field House.

But the sellout crowd of 14,500 made history and saw an exciting basketball game, and Maryland officials hope the turnout signaled the beginning of the end of apathy toward women's basketball in College Park.

"I always envisioned things like that because if you don't, it will never happen," said Maryland coach Chris Weller.

"I think our women's program has proven something," said Andy Geiger, Maryland's athletic director. "I think it's on the map. [Tuesday] was a statement for women's basketball."

The crowd smashed an Atlantic Coast Conference record for attendance at a women's game and was both the fourth-largest regular-season crowd of all time and the seventh largest to see a women's game.

Geiger said 198 people who had purchased tickets were turned away and given refunds when the campus fire marshal ruled that no one else could come in, just before game time.

The previous all-time high for a Maryland women's game was 3,314, achieved in December 1990, when the Terps were visited by then top-ranked Tennessee.

So, given the track record of campus disinterest in the women's team, which has won eight ACC titles and appeared in three Final Fours, the natural question is whether fans will come back, either to Maryland's home finale against Duke on Feb. 22, or their first- or second-round NCAA tournament home game next month.

The players, just now getting used to seeing warm bodies in the Cole seats, say they aren't terribly concerned with that yet.

"Hopefully, they will come back," said senior forward Dafne Lee of Walbrook High. "If they don't, we can't get caught up in trying to get them back. We just have to focus on winning."

And Geiger says he's not concerned with keeping the fans coming back either.

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