Early bird tickets for Baltimore’s BEST party on sale now!

Top-ranked Tennessee shuts down Maryland women, 64-48


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- In one sense, the 23rd-ranked Maryland women's basketball team did what it wanted to do against No. 1 Tennessee yesterday, keeping the Volunteers to a season low in scoring.

But in a more important sense, the Terps could not do what they needed to do -- score -- as they lost, 64-48, to the Volunteers.

Maryland (4-2) failed to score 50 points for the first time in 70 games, dating to a 45-44 loss to Duke in the 1990-91 season, and made just 13 field goals, an all-time low in the program's 22-year history.

Maryland center Monica Adams had a career-high 18 points, but 10 came on free throws. Only five Terps scored, and their starting backcourt of Karon Ferguson and Lillian Purvis combined for one point.

"We're impressed with Tennessee's team," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "I can see why they're ranked No. 1. They're strong in all aspects of the game."

The Volunteers (5-0) are certainly strong, especially on defense, where they made 13 steals and out-rebounded Maryland, 44-30.

But the Terps more than aided in their downfall by playing their sloppiest game of the season against the toughest opponent, committing 23 turnovers and shooting 31 percent.

"On offense, we made a few bad decisions," said senior forward Bonnie Rimkus. "We didn't take care of the ball. We tried to pass the ball to people who had two people on them. But that can be cleaned up."

Said Weller: "It's nice to see a team [Tennessee] that plays good, solid basketball and has talent."

Maryland will have two weeks and doubtlessly many practices to clean up its deficiencies and mull over a game that could have been closer, or even won, had the Terps been able to score.

The Terps, particularly in their zone defense in the first half, did a good job of taking the transition game away from Tennessee, and forced the Volunteers to shoot from the outside.

"People have obviously concentrated on our inside game, and we'll be challenged consistently to beat teams from the outside," said Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.

Among the Volunteers held in check inside was former Baltimore Sun Player of the Year Dana Johnson (Western), who had eight points on 4-for-6 shooting.

But despite their early inconsistency on offense -- and occasional cold spells later -- the Volunteers began to pick up the defensive pressure and get out on the run, and carried a 12-point lead into halftime.

"They're bigger than most teams," said Weller. "It's a bigger, tougher zone, so it's tougher to find a seam in the zone."

The loss also exposed the Terps' lack of depth. Weller said that Maryland's dressing eight players and playing only six regularly shouldn't be a factor, because the Terps aren't in a tournament situation.

However, as Maryland players got into foul trouble, Tennessee, which used eight players at least 15 minutes each, was able to draw on depth not available to the Terps.

"The most glaring thing was our depth," said Summitt. "I thought our bench came in and did a good job. We wanted to play an up-tempo game and open our offense in transition, and the depth helped us."

Junior forward Nikki McCray was the prime beneficiary of the Tennessee running game, with 18 points, six rebounds and four steals.

"She's an excellent player," said Weller. "We knew coming in that she would give us problems."

In one sequence, McCray picked Rimkus clean for a steal at the Maryland foul line, and let loose a squeal of delight heard by virtually all of the 5,048 spectators at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The resulting layup, coming with 3:23 left, choked off any hope of a final Terps comeback.

"I was really excited about that steal, and when I got it, I just wanted to let the crowd know that I was really into it," said McCray.

"I think they did," quipped Summitt.

The Terps certainly did.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad