News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Defending champs fall to Ole Miss

By Pat Eaton-Robb
Associated Press Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. — Maryland fell into Mississippi’s trap and the defending NCAA women’s basketball champion never got out.

Ole Miss (23-10) used its stifling defense to steal the ball 15 times and scored 42 points off 29 Maryland turnovers and the Rebels upset the No. 2 seed Terrapins 89-78 in the Dayton Regional on Tuesday night.

“I think the game is really simple,” Mississippi coach Carol Ross said. “You guard hard, you create ball plays, you let ball players make ball plays. You put them into position to do that.”

Maryland was expected to have a good chance at repeating as national champions with all five starters returning. The Terps added depth with transfer Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood, but it wasn’t enough to stop them from a disappointing second round loss.

“A season ago, we loved the fact that we had youth,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “I think it really hurt us tonight and spiraled in terms of our frustration and Ole Miss fed off of it.”

Armintie Price scored 28 points to lead the Rebels, the same Ole Miss team that was blown out by the Terps 110-79 at a tournament in the Bahamas in November.

This time there was a lot more on the line.

“This time we were trying to win a championship, we were playing for bigger and better things, so we were more focused,” Price said.

Mississippi will play No. 3 Oklahoma in the Dayton Regional semifinals. The third-seeded Sooners beat Marquette 78-47 on Monday.

Kristi Toliver led Maryland (28-6) with 24, including 14 in the second half when the Terps cut a 23-point lead to seven. But she also had 10 turnovers.

“Kristi is a tremendous shooting for us and when she can knock down shot for us her game is really flowing,” Frese said. “In terms of all our point guards, we need to take better care of the basketball.”

Shay Doron and Marissa Coleman fouled out late, and the Rebels hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

“We shoot the ball better than anyone in the country, and we just couldn’t get good looks,” Doron said. “We just couldn’t get good shots and we just kept turning the ball over and they got easy layups out of that.”

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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