COLLEGE PARK -- Three weeks ago, the Maryland women's basketball team was floundering in the midst of a five-game losing streak and was headed for the play-in game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Just about then, Kelley Gibson had the first of seven straight games with double-figure scoring totals. It's a string in which the Terps have won four, including last night's 75-63 victory over Florida State, to move them into sole possession of sixth place, with a chance to grab fifth.
Gibson's ability to slash and create, as well as hit the three-pointer, has jump-started the dormant Maryland offense, which has topped the 70-point mark in two of the past three games, after failing to reach 70 in the seven previous contests.
The redshirt freshman's skills were back on display last night, as she scored 27 points -- 17 in the second half -- to lead Maryland (12-12, 6-8) to its third straight win, its fourth in the past five and back to .500 for the first time since Jan. 24.
"We've started playing harder and being more intense, which allows us to create more offense off our defense," said Gibson, who is averaging 18.4 points over that seven-game string.
Said Florida State coach Marynell Meadors: "She's more polished now than she was then [in Maryland's 72-49 win at Tallahassee in January]. She's very confident in her shot, and her shot looks good. It's taken her a long time to come back from her knee injury, and she's playing really well right now."
Gibson was aided by sophomore guard Sonia Chase (McDonogh), who had 14 points, six assists and eight steals to pad her ACC steals lead.
"If anybody jump-started this game, it was Sonia," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "Sonia put us on a torrid pace, which is what we wanted. It's pretty important that Kelley's comfortable offensively, but it's also important that Sonia is establishing a pace. The two of them have played critical roles."
It may be a bit unfair to measure Maryland's progress by last night's game, because Florida State (7-17, 2-13) hardly gave the Terps a serious challenge, save for a 18-9 run after Maryland led by 21 with 5:15 left.
"We allowed too much penetration. They just basically were quicker to the ball. They were more alert in their play than was Florida State," said Meadors.
The Terps are in an interesting position. With two games to go in the regular season, Maryland is two games behind North Carolina, its next opponent, for fifth place.
Should the Terps beat the Tar Heels on the road Wednesday and upset Virginia on Saturday, combined with a North Carolina loss to Duke on Friday night, they would capture fifth place in the league, with a tiebreaker edge over the Tar Heels.
FLORIDA STATE -- Williams 8-13 3-4 18, Hampton 1-4 0-0 2, Moorefield 3-7 0-0 6, McLin 1-5 2-4 4, Penn 0-3 0-0 0, Davidson 4-7 0-0 8, Robinson 3-7 0-0 8, Parker 1-2 1-2 3, White 4-4 1-2 9, Miller 1-3 1-2 4. Totals 26-55 8-14 63.
MARYLAND -- Cross 4-13 4-4 12, Gibson 11-17 4-5 27, Ohman 2-3 0-0 4, Purvis 5-11 0-0 10, Chase 5-13 4-6 14, Davis 3-6 0-0 6, Bretz 0-1 0-0 0, Cimmier 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 31-65 12-15 75.
Halftime--UM 39-28. 3-point goals--FSU 3-4 (Robinson 2-3, Miller 1-1); UM 1-3 (Gibson 1-2, Bretz 0-1). Fouled out--Cross. Rebounds--FSU 36 (Williams 13); UM 33 (Cross 7). Assists--FSU 17 (Robinson 5); UM 16 (Chase 6). Total fouls--FSU 12, UM 17. A--1,372.