On a warm late March night 32 years ago, the Maryland women’s basketball program took a big step towards forging an identity on the national stage by beating Texas on their home court in the NCAA tournament.
The scenario is nearly identical to the one the current edition of Terps find themselves in heading into Sunday’s Hemisfair Regional semifinal against the Longhorns in Texas.
Maryland (26-2) will be in San Antonio Sunday, not in Austin, as they were back in 1989. And this meeting will only get them a step closer to a Final Four berth, unlike a generation ago, when their 79-71 victory propelled them to the third national semifinal in school history.
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But, now, as then, the Terps will be looking to grab a measure of national notice and respect by beating the Longhorns (20-9) in what will, in effect, be a road game, given that San Antonio is a 90 minute drive from the Texas campus.
Maryland, which drubbed Mount St. Mary’s and Alabama in their tournament openers, is averaging a tournament-high 99 points, but is likely to face its biggest defensive challenge to date in Texas, which gives up just 62.7 points per contest.
The sixth-seeded Longhorns are anchored in the middle by junior center Charli Collier. The 6’5 junior averages nearly 12 rebounds a game to go along with 20 points. Collier, who has declared herself eligible for the WNBA draft, is expected to be the first player chosen next month. Her length and size may cause headaches for the Terps, who traditionally have had difficulty with classic low-post players during coach Brenda Frese’s tenure.
Meanwhile, Texas, which knocked off third-seed UCLA in the second round, has picked up the pace from the outside, shooting 39 percent from three-point range in the last six games, including hitting 13 in an overtime win over Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament.
However, Collier has fouled out of seven games this season, an indication of being overaggressive. And Texas has at least 10 turnovers in 10 of their last 11 games, which may play right into Frese’s formula to force miscues and get transition baskets.
Sports Media Analyst
Milton Kent is a veteran of Baltimore and Maryland journalism. Kent began a long association with the Baltimore Sun in 1985, serving as the Evening Sun’s Howard County reporter for 2 ½ years before joining the paper’s features department as an entertainment writer in 1988. In the following year, Kent began covering men’s and women’s college basketball for the Evening Sun, concentrating on the Maryland men’s and women’s teams. He continued covering college basketball when the writing staffs of the Evening and Morning Suns merged in 1991. From there, he covered the Orioles for three seasons before becoming one of the nation’s first fulltime sports media critics for parts of six years. In 2000, he began covering the NBA until 2004, when he launched a high school sports column, which he wrote until he left the Sun in 2008. Kent joined the staff of AOL Fanhouse, an online sports operation in 2009, covering sports media and women’s basketball, until operations ceased in 2011. He then joined the faculty at Morgan State University in the fall of 2011, where he has taught until the present day. In addition to writing for various platforms, including Sports Illustrated.com and TV Guide, Kent has hosted “Sports At Large,” a weekly commentary program airing on WYPR (88.1 FM) since 2002.