The #18/20 Terps finished up the 2010 calendar year on a high note, beating the #17/17-ranked St. John's Red Storm today at Comcast in the title game of the Terrapin Classic, 66-60.
The first half of today's midday game was tightly contested, despite the fact that St. John's did not hit a field goal until nearly ten minutes into the period. But thanks to turnovers and fouls by the Terps, SJU managed to hang around, even though they struggled from the field. At the break, Maryland took a 31-26 lead into the locker room.
In the second period, the Terps appeared to take control . . . opening up a lead that grew to as many as
16 18 points. However, as often happens when one team is trying to protect a lead while the other team is fighting desperately to come back, that comfortable double-digit margin didn't hold up. St. John's chipped away at the Maryland lead, forcing the Terps to really work to hold on and secure the win. We weren't expecting the nation's #17 ranked team to allow the Terps to roll to an easy victory . . . and the Red Storm didn't. They fought hard, but the Terps hung on. Whew.
Two Terps finished in double figures today, Diandra T with 19, and Lynetta Kizer, with 13 (including her 1,000th career point. Congrats to 'Netta!). For the first time this season, the Terps were outrebounded by their (noticeably smaller) opponent. Fortunately, it was not enough to give St. John's the victory.
While this game didn't have the hype of a meeting between Maryland and one of their traditional ACC rivals, it was still a very important game -- and a very important win -- for the 2010-11 team. To date it's their only victory (in two tries) over another nationally-ranked team. Not only should this win provide the Terps with some good momentum going into ACC play, but it should also be a plus for the team next March with the NCAA selection committee.
And Maryland will need all the momentum it can muster, as conference play kicks off next Thursday with as difficult a game as any team can play in the ACC -- a game (on the road) against Duke in Cameron.
Before that, however, the Terps have one more game to play -- on Sunday, in Philly, against St. Joe's at 2 PM. And then it's next stop, Durham!
Photo Credits: DC BasketCases