COLLEGE PARK -- Unlike last season, the Maryland women's basketball team this year can battle most opponents on a more even basis from a talent standpoint.
But the Terps, for all their improved talent, don't have a star frontcourt player, and that fact was on glaring display in last night's 83-66 loss to sixth-ranked Penn State in the final of the Dial Classic at Cole Field House.
Maryland (4-2) played the Lions (6-2) to a relative standoff on the perimeter but had no answer for Penn State junior Angie Potthoff, who scored 30 points, the sixth straight time that she's had 20 or more in a game this season, and her second 30-point performance of the year.
Potthoff, a 6-foot-1 junior from Erie, Pa., scored 16 in the first half to get things going, then had eight points in a 15-6 run to start the second half that effectively put the game away.
"Our guards are doing a great job of getting me the ball, which has been the key," said Potthoff, a first-team All-Big Ten selection last year. "A couple of times, there'd be a deflection and I'd just get it and put it in. I guess I'm in the right place at the right time."
Said Penn State coach Rene Portland: "We're riding the back of Angie Potthoff. We're thrilled to do it, and she's happy to carry us. She has great hands and she's very fluid."
The loss was Maryland's 20th straight against ranked opponents, dating back to a 75-61 win over North Carolina in the 1992-93 ACC tournament semifinals. The Terps haven't beaten a Top 10 team since knocking off then-No. 1 Tennessee, 77-72, earlier that season in the final of the Maryland Invitational Tournament.
In the first half, the Lions threatened on a number of occasions to put Maryland away, but the Terps stayed close, as guard Lillian Purvis, who had a team-high 19 points, hit a three-pointer and two medium-range jumpers to get Maryland to within 40-36 with 1:17 left in the half.
But Potthoff got a put-back, was fouled and converted a free throw. Then guard Tiffany Longworth hit a three-pointer with 15 seconds left in the half to give Penn State a 10-point halftime lead and take some of the momentum away from Maryland.
"They're just stronger in terms of conditioning than we are," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "We had switched defenses and that got us back in the game, but they were able to make the adjustments."
In the consolation game, Mount St. Mary's (2-2) trailed Bowling Green (2-3) by 10 points at halftime and cut the deficit to two with 13 minutes left before the Falcons pulled away down the stretch to win, 73-58.