Maryland 92, Duke 89
Greensboro, N.C.(ACC Tournament – Championship)
Greensborosports.com was at the Championship game today in the Greensboro Coliseum and I pretty much sat on the Maryland bench or right behind it in the first half and over by the press row in the second half.
I’ll have to say I liked my seat right behind the Maryland bench better and it was a good chance to see the coaches up close and personal and having been in a few women’s championship games as coach myself, it’s good to be right on top of the action in a game at this high level.
Chante Black of Duke and East Forsyth HS picked up three fouls in the first half, as Duke fell behind to Maryland 40-36, at the end of 20 minutes. I show a little favoritism toward Black since she is local and I called a few of her games on the radio back when she was at EF.
Black scored the first bucket of the second half after going scoreless in the fisrt frame and then Chante went on to score 11 points for the game and she got a tip-in for Duke with just 2.1 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime where Duke went on to fall to Terrapins, 92-89.
It was 81-81 all at the end of forty minutes and that OT period served to jack up the Coliseum crowd which had a heavy Duke blue flavor, but there was still a large dose of Maryland red in house as the two sides went at it.
One Maryland fan was yelling at Mike Hogewood, the TV announcer for the ACC Women’s tournament broadcast, and he was letting Mike have it as the Terrapin fan repeated, “there’s NO BLUE this year Hogewood, there’s NO BLUE this year”, in regards to the tournament belonging to the Red and White clad Terps and not the Blue of Duke or the Light Blue of North Carolina.
It was 92-89 Maryland over Duke and the Terps were led by Marissa Coleman with 28 and Kristi Toliver with 24 points. Marah Strickland added 11 points including three threes in the second half.
Duke was paced by Carrem Gay’s 19, plus Jasmine Thomas and Karima Christmas came through with 16 points each.
We’ll have the rundown from the offices at theacc.com upon their completion or at the end of the business day:
Maryland and Duke will have nearly two weeks off before they open NCAA tournament play, and after today’s epic ACC Tournament championship, they’ll welcome the break. The down time should allow the legend of Marissa Coleman to percolate. Just in case that’s necessary.
Coleman’s 3-point field goal with 2:54 left in overtime gave the Terrapins the lead for good, and they held on by completing a nearly perfect afternoon from the foul line to defeat Duke 92-89 in the ACC Tournament championship game. The Terps overcame the disappointment of losing a six-point lead in the final 90 seconds of regulation, and they improved to 10-1 in OT during the careers of spectacular seniors Coleman and Kristi Toliver.
“We continue to show that overtime is our time,” coach Brenda Frese said. “What a tremendous game. What a tremendous win with two teams that had the will to win.”
Coleman finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds and six assists to deliver Maryland its first ACC title since 1989. The Terps went 23-of-24 at the foul line, a tournament record for any game with 10 or more attempts.
“I think it has to go down as one of the greatest games in the history of the ACC Tournament,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “I’m very, very proud of our team. I’m very proud of our fight.”
The OT was the first in the ACC finals since the Terrapins lost to Virginia 106-103 in three extra sessions in 1993, a classic some consider the best game involving two ACC teams. The other chief candidate is another Duke-Maryland encounter, the 2006 NCAA finals. In that one, Toliver, then a freshman, forced extra time by hitting a heavily contested 3-pointer at the end of regulation, and her team went on to a 78-75 win in Boston.
Something similar played out today in the Greensboro Coliseum. The Blue Devils, down 81-75 and reduced to hoping Coleman would miss a 3-pointer in the last two minutes of regulation, charged back and necessitated extra time on Chante Black’s tip-in with 2.3 ticks left.
As it prepared for another five minutes, Frese reminded her team that it hadn’t lost yet.
“We knew they would have momentum after that shot, but we just stayed composed throughout this tournament,” Coleman said.
Duke took the lead three separate times in OT, but the Terrapins responded. Coleman’s two free throws produced a draw with 3:34 left, and after Karima Christmas put the Devils up 87-85, Coleman demanded the ball and knocked down a trifecta from the top of the key.
“I don’t remember who set the screens,” said Coleman, the tournament Most Valuable Player.
After Kim Rodgers made two clutch freebies with 12 seconds to play, the lead was again three. The Terrapins would need just about everything they made. Duke forced 19 turnovers while committing only eight, and that margin kept the score tight.
The Devils sought the tie and the Terps decided to play standard defense rather than fouling around midcourt to prevent a 3-point attempt. Frese admitted she didn’t have the chance to make a specific directive because the Devils had compelled the Terps to take their final time outs to avoid turnovers.
Abby Waner, whose remarkable range and quick release make virtually any shot feasible, took a pass, stepped back two feet and fired from just in front of the left sideline. When the shot missed, the Terrapins were champs.
“Abby does take things pretty hard, but we are going to let her know that we have great confidence in her,” Duke forward Carrem Gay said. “We have a couple more games to go get what we want.”
Both teams await their NCAA tournament draws. The Terps know they’ll play at home in the first two rounds because their arena, the Comcast Center, has been designated as a site. The Blue Devils could wind up anywhere. Both will be high seeds with great chances to make the Final Four in St. Louis.
And who knows? Maybe extra work will be required.
“The thing I love about overtime – and our players know this – is that it’s a mindset,” Frese said. “You have to embrace it.”
2009 ACC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Marissa Coleman, Maryland
Carrem Gay, Duke
Abby Waner, Duke
Jessica Breland, North Carolina
Carolyn Swords, Boston College
Marah Freshour, Florida State
Tanae Davis-Cain, Florida State
Italee Lucas, North Carolina
Rashanda McCants, North Carolina
Marissa Coleman, Maryland