Terps end Final Four drought

Associated Press
Published March 28, 2006

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Maryland got dragged into the first overtime of the NCAA Tournament.

Not that it cared. The Terrapins said they knew they were headed to the Final Four once they hit the extra session.

"Overtime is our time. I didn't worry about it," said Kristi Toliver, who made just about everything she put up in second-seeded Maryland's 75-65 victory over No.5 Utah on Monday night.

Toliver set career highs with 28 points and six 3-pointers and Crystal Langhorne added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Terps, who reached their first Final Four since 1989 and play Sunday against the winner of the Cleveland Region final between North Carolina and Tennessee.

"Our confidence in overtime is out of this world," said Laura Harper, who scored six in OT. "I think everybody on this team knew we'd be flying through the overtime."

The Terrapins (32-4) had a stomach virus circulate during their long weekend in Albuquerque, making things even tougher than they expected.

"I still feel a little under the weather, since mine just hit me" Sunday night, Toliver said. "I think we'll just be extremely happy going to Boston."

Maryland improved to 5-0 in overtime this season, but it was hardly easy.

Kim Smith had 17 points and 18 rebounds to lead Utah. Shona Thorburn had 10 points after missing the last five minutes of the first half to handle an ankle injury.

But Thorburn, a 71 percent free-throw shooter, also missed a golden opportunity. With 7.8 seconds left in regulation, she made one free throw when she could have sent Utah to its first Final Four by making both.

Instead, it was tied at 63, then it was all Maryland in overtime.