COLLEGE PARK -- Quite often, the nickname "classic" that trails December basketball tournaments is a misnomer, with the play being anything but memorable.
That was hardly the case with last night's championship game of the Dial Soap Women's Basketball Classic as 20th-ranked Maryland and Washington staged a battle worthy of the name.
In the end, the Huskies played their brand of defense just a little better and claimed the 56-55 win over the Terps.
"You see two defensive teams out there making the other offense look silly, but it would be silly not to credit the defenses," said Washington coach Chris Gobrecht.
Washington forward Tara Davis hit two free throws near the five-minute mark to provide what would be the margin of victory.
The Terps, who would hold the Huskies scoreless for the last 4:57 and without a basket for the final seven minutes, could not convert at critical moments and suffered their first home loss in 13 regular-season games.
Bonnie Rimkus, who scored a game-high 21 points to go along with 16 rebounds, missed an off-balance follow shot with 10 seconds left that would have given the Terps the lead.
But the Terps still had a chance to win. After Washington guard Katia Foucade missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Terps grabbed the rebound and called time with 2.1 seconds left and the ball at half court.
Rimkus threw the inbound pass, intending to find Monica Adams, but the pass was picked off by Husky forward Laura Gonsalves, who held the ball and ran out the clock.
"We got the play that we wanted," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "The ball slipped out of Bonnie's hands. Monica Adams was all alone. Bonnie's our best inbounds passer. We didn't need her to shoot. We've got Monica Adams wide open in the lane. Bonnie makes that pass 10 times out of 10."
"We figured they would try to throw it to the big kids underneath the basket and they did. Laura was fortunate to be there where she was," said Gobrecht.
The outcome of the last play could not overshadow the brilliance of the defensive exhibition by both teams.
For instance, in the evening's most glaring statistical anomaly, the Terps shot 55 percent from the floor, but only took 42 shots, because the Huskies forced a whopping 35 turnovers.
Washington, however, shot a paltry 39 percent from the floor but out-rebounded Maryland 16-4 offensively.
"We felt our post defenders were going to have to do their best to hold their own and then we'd put so much pressure on their perimeter players so that they couldn't get the ball inside," said Gobrecht.
Indeed, the Huskies (7-1) kept Maryland scoreless for a critical six-minute stretch of the second half, from the 9:22 mark, when Rimkus tied the score on an acrobatic follow shot, until Michele Andrew, who scored 12 of her 19 points in the second half, hit a layup with 3:56 left to pull Maryland to within three.
"We held our breath every time they got a shot because their shooters are so good," said Gobrecht. "We had to force the action because if they were allowed to control the tempo, we would have been in trouble."
The Terps (5-3) were fortunate to trail by only four at halftime as the Huskies outplayed them on both ends of the court, particularly on the defensive end, where they overplayed the passing lanes and played aggressive defense.
Washington forced 18 Maryland first-half turnovers, while committing only 10 on offense, where they repeatedly found Smith open down low. She converted enough to score 12 points.
The Huskies were also effective at crashing the offensive boards, where they out-rebounded Maryland 9-2. About the only thing that kept Washington from blowing the Terps out was their inability to hit from the outside. The Huskies were scoreless from outside of 12 feet, missing all seven three-point attempts.
In the consolation game, Loyola earned its first win of the season, beating UMES, 84-48.
The Greyhounds (1-6) forced 38 turnovers from the Hawks (0-6), and were paced by junior forward Patty Stoffey, who had 27 points and 13 rebounds.
"You're 0-6 before this game and how do you tell your kids that they've done well?," said Loyola coach Pat Coyle, whose team has been overmatched by opponents like Purdue and Pittsburgh from more prominent conferences.
"But they have played well. I think they've tried too hard, but I appreciated it. I'm pleased with their effort and I need to get that across," he said.
The Greyhounds had dropped their opener inthe tournament to Washington 82-57.