With the coach who succeeded her at Minnesota on the opposing bench and about a hundred bright-gold, color-coded fans from Minneapolis in the stands, Coach B sent her young Terps up against the Golden Gophers tonight at Comcast, and her team delivered a dominating performance to win their match-up of the 2009 Big Ten/ACC Challenge, 66-45.
Meanwhile, six of Maryland's sister ACC schools also took care of business (2 last night, 4 tonight), so that for the 3rd year of the 3-year inter-conference Challenge, the ACC won, continuing its domination of the Big Ten.
Maryland's dominating win this evening featured a balanced scoring effort by the Terps, led by Kim Rodgers, who had a game high 14 points, and Diandra T, who added 13. From the sidelines, Coach B substituted freely, keeping fresh legs on the floor, which helped the Terps control the pace of the game. By the second half, the Gophers were displaying definite signs of fatigue. Besides her scoring, Kim also showed a real toughness on the defensive side that helped set the tone for her teammates.
In fact, the defensive intensity from the entire roster of Terps was the best we've seen all year. Yes, you read that right -- defensive intensity from the Terps! Let's be frank, Maryland in recent years hasn't exactly been known for its D-fense. When you had players who together could routinely light it up for 80 points per game, it's not hard to figure out why D-fense wasn't their highest priority. But it's apparent that with the new young Terps, the coaching staff has made D-fense a point of emphasis this season. Watching tonight, it seems clear that the message has gotten through and the hard work is beginning to pay off. (The Terps held Minnesota to 27% shooting . . . Ouch!)
Before calling it a night, we want make sure to give a shout out to those Gopher fans who made the very long trip to Maryland from Minnesota to support their team. It's great to see that kind of support from fans. Their presence added extra excitement, reminding us that this game was important -- not just for an out-of-conference win or to keep the home win-streak alive (43 and counting!) -- but also because Conference bragging rights were at stake. As loyal Gopher fans, they can't be happy with the outcome of the game or the performance of their team. But at least they had a beautiful spring-like day for touring our nation's capital. So while their team didn't give them the game they were hoping for, at least the weather cooperated!