#2: Terps Beat No. 1 UNC in Final Four
Aug. 24, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The 2006 Terrapins entered their Final Four game in Boston already happy and ecstatic just being there. Their opponent was the No. 1 overall seed and the team everyone thought would win it all - North Carolina. The Terps were the only team to have beaten the Tar Heels that year.
On April 2, 2006 in Boston, the Terrapins proved all those doubters wrong with an 81-70 win to advance to the national championship game.
"A lot of people thought North Carolina was the most talented team in the country and they were a popular pick to win it all, " head coach Brenda Frese said. "There's no doubt they were a great team. Our team felt like even though we had already won 32 games, we never got respect, so that was a great motivator for us."
Maryland was led by the 24 points from sophomore Laura Harper and a double-double from freshman Marissa Coleman with 12 points and 14 boards. Sophomore Crystal Langhorne added 23 points and freshman Kristi Toliver had 14. They out rebounded North Carolina, who was one of the most dominant inside teams in the country, 41-31.
"For whatever reason, our team was very confident against UNC. As a group, we prepared for the game like we expected to win," Frese said. "The day before and day of the game, we plastered signs that said `REBOUND' everywhere our team went, from the bathroom to the locker room. We knew we had to win that battle. One of the `x factors' was the 14 rebounds we got from Marissa Coleman. Not many teams get that from a perimeter player."
The Terps took a 36-34 lead into the break. UNC never led by more than two and its only lead in the second half was 42-40 with 17 minutes to go.
"We pounded the ball inside to our super sophomores, Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper. Lang is the most remarkable finisher I've ever coached and she barely missed a shot. Harp was hitting her stride after missing most of her freshman season with an Achilles tear," Frese said. "I had a private meeting with her earlier in the season about being an impact player and that we didn't recruit her to Maryland to be a role player. Crystal and Laura played with so much energy, passion and fearlessness that it transmitted throughout our entire team. We got them the ball and they delivered."
"Somewhere towards the very end of the game, Carolina's top post player Erlana Larkins fouled out. On her own, she made a detour to come by our bench and shake hands. It was like she was acknowledging our team's performance. It's easy to say when you're on the winning end, but that was a very sportsmanlike move by a player I had the utmost respect for."
As the Terrapins knew they clinched the win in the final minutes, celebrations across Terp Nation began. But the Terrapins weren't done yet.
"It was an incredible feeling as time expired. We enjoyed the moment, hollered in our locker room, but the prevailing theme was `one more game'. We were really happy, but not satisfied."