Maryland And Ole Miss In A Rematch; Uconn Faces Streaking Green Bay

Monday, March 19th 2007, 5:53 pm
By: News On 6

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Mississippi was blown out by Maryland early this season at a tournament in the Bahamas.

Much more will be on the line Tuesday night, when the second-seeded Terps (28-5) meet No. 7 Ole Miss (22-10) again in the NCAA tournament's Dayton Regional.

``When we played in November our feet were in sand and now they're in snow. We were playing for a conch shell and now we're playing for a championship,'' Ole Miss coach Carol Ross said. ``I hope we're a much better team today then we were at that point. I hope Maryland is not near as good a team today as they were that day, because they were very good.''

The defending national champions are still very good, having beaten 31 consecutive nonconference opponents, including Harvard, 89-65 in the first round.

The Terps will face an Ole Miss team that loves to press, trap, run, and shoot. The Rebels scored 39 points off 23 turnovers in beating TCU 88-74 Sunday.

Rebel guard Armintie Price said rebounds and steals will be the key to avoiding a loss similar to the 110-79 beating they took on Nov. 25 at the Junkanoo Jam.

``We just want to get out there and brawl and make it ugly,'' she said. ``That's how we win most of the time, we make it ugly.''

Maryland still has all five starters from last season's national championship team, but has shuffled its lineup this week.

Guard Kristi Toliver didn't start against Harvard, but came off the bench to score 13 points. Frese said she'll have the same role on Tuesday and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood will get the start.

Both will be charged with helping to stop Price, who averages over 18 points a game.

``Obviously it's going to be very guard oriented,'' Toliver said. ``As guards on this team, we are ready to take on the challenge of defending them.''

Maryland will be heavy favorites in that game, as will Connecticut in the night's second contest.

The Huskies (30-3), the No. 1 seed in the Fresno Regional, take on No. 9 Wisconsin-Green Bay (29-3), winners of 26 consecutive games.

``They are well coached and they've got kids that understand their roles, and they don't get rattled when they get down. You can tell that they're used to winning,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ``But so are we.''

Phoenix coach Kevin Borseth downplayed his team's chances of extending it's winning streak, and laughed when asked how his players match up against the Huskies.

``We have two areas of concern,'' Borseth said. ``One _ how are we going to score; and two _ how are we going to stop them. And I don't have an answer.''

The Phoenix found answers earlier this year, beating Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, becoming the only nonconference team to win three games against the Big Ten.

Auriemma said he expects the Phoenix to collapse their zone defense on Charde Houston, who has averaged 15 points and nine rebounds in her last 11 games, and force the Huskies' guards to beat them from the outside. All five Connecticut starters average in double figures.

Senior guard Amanda Popp said while it's strange to come into a game as an underdog, it doesn't mean her team is lacking confidence.

``It helps to have a good season,'' she said. ``Even though this is a big team, we have a chance.''

Green Bay will be trying to beat UConn on the Huskies home court. But while Connecticut averaged 14,215 fans at the seven regular-season home games played at the Civic Center, only 6,824 showed up for Sunday's 9:30 p.m. start.

Auriemma put the blame for that squarely on the NCAA, saying the people who are running the tournament, ``are screwing it up.''

``This is (the fans) way of saying, 'Maybe you shouldn't play at 9:30 and you shouldn't charge as much as you charge,''' he said. ``People are voicing their opinions.''

The Huskies will again play the late game on Tuesday night.