For Maryland fans, the night of April 4, 2006 will be indelibly associated with what has simply become known in Maryland and women's basketball lore as "the shot" and rightly so. Kristi Toliver's step back three pointer over Alison Bales with 5.7 seconds left that tied the score and capped off the Terps furious comeback was, indeed a shot for the ages. But the truth is, thirteen point comebacks don't hinge on a single shot alone. So, as we take a look back and the number one win on Brenda Frese's hit parade at Maryland, I'm going to point out eleven other key moments both the ones that I remembered and the ones that I'd forgotten until I watched the game replay to with this retrospective.
Before I start the journey through the game I want to provide some additional context. Prior to the 2005-2006 season, Maryland was 0-8 against Duke with Brenda Frese as the head coach. They'd played only two games where the margin was under ten points. Duke had won both regular season match-ups trouncing Maryland by eighteen in College Park and backing that up with a ten point win in Durham. So not only was the Terps 78-70 win in the ACC semi final first for Maryland in the Brenda Frese era, it marked only the second time Maryland scored more than 70 points in a game during that span and was only Duke's third loss of the year with the other two coming to UNC. This meant that coming into the Final Four, except for Maryland's early season loss to Tennessee, the three ACC teams had lost only to each other. Now, on to the game.
Key Moment Number 1 - In Her Grill
Marissa Coleman was having a rough game. Her shot wasn't falling. Duke was being very physical with her and she wasn't getting any calls. Duke had out rebounded Maryland early and was dominating in the paint and on the scoreboard. The last media time out came with just 2:34 to play in the half with the Terps trailing by eleven. Coach Frese met her star freshman on the court far from the bench and clearly laid into her for her obvious frustration and passive play. She pushed the right buttons, though as Coleman would respond strongly.
Key Moment Number 2 - The Right Substitution at the Right Time
With 1:38 to go Coach Frese, who had sent Charmaine Carr, one of her two seniors, onto the floor possibly for a few minutes of calming influence replaced her with sophomore guard Ashleigh Newman. This led to:
Key Moment Number 3 - Building Momentum
A minute after being inserted into the game, Newman hit a spot up three from the left wing to bring the Terps within ten at 38-28 and, after a defensive stop give the team a little momentum to take into the locker room.
Before I move on to key moment number four, I need to make note of two important events one a bit on the periphery and the other having to do with the flow of the game. Covering the latter first, at the under twelve media time out, Duke held a 12-7 rebounding advantage over Maryland which was the top rebounding team in the country. By halftime, the Terps had closed that gap to 21-23 and would eventually win that battle by one. Second, after Duke missed that late shot, Toliver made a hard drive around Monique Currie who then fouled her intentionally with 4.9 seconds to go. Since it possibly saved a basket and Duke had a foul to give and a double digit lead, it seemed a reasonable play. Please keep it in mind.
Key Moment Number 4 - The Halftime Speech
Coach Frese's locker room has always been among the most accessible in college basketball and the night of the National Championship game was no different. A snippet of her halftime speech made it into ESPN's telecast as she told her team, "The game is not over. We've still got twenty great minutes of basketball in us and you know what they're doing right now when I walked down the hallway? They're celebratin'! They're celebrating!"
Key Moment(s) Number 5 - Doron Domination
Truthfully, this is a series of moments that spans about four minutes early in the second half. It started innocently enough with 18:15 to go when the queen of charges gets herself in position and draws foul number two on Currie. Less than twenty seconds later while defending a two on one Duke fast break, Doron steals a pass and Currie picks up foul number three in frustration. Things went quiet for Shay for a while but with about fifteen and a half minutes to go, she hides behind Alison Bales, then dodges around her, steals another pass, and makes a breakaway lay up. (A strange thing was happening here. Doron's lay up cut the deficit to ten. We were almost five minutes into the second half and the Terps were no closer than they had been at halftime but almost all the energy in the building felt like it was flowing to Maryland despite Duke answering with a three point shot that put them up by thirteen.) With 14:34 left, Doron drives to the basket and picks up a foul. She makes both free throws. On Duke's next possession, her pressure defense forces Abby Waner to make a bad pass that Crystal Langhorne intercepts and turns into a three point play that closes the score to 45-37. She follows this up by trapping Jessica Foley in the corner forcing Duke to burn a time out. Doron only scored four of Maryland's nine points over this span but I felt then and believe now that this was the stretch that turned the game in Maryland's favor.
Key Moment Number 6 - Toliver Finds Her Stroke
Although she was protecting the ball much better than she had on Sunday against UNC, Kristi Toliver was struggling with her shot. To this point in the game, she was 2 for eight from the floor and had missed all of her three point attempts. The shot I'm about to describe was critical not only because it got her offense started but also because of a series of plays a few minutes earlier. With about eleven minutes left in regulation, Ashleigh Newman stole the ball from Currie and got it to Langhorne who hit Doron streaking up the right. Shay was a little off balance, rushed her shot and it came up short. When Duke scored quickly, it was a four point turn around and an eight point deficit feels much deeper than four. After the teams more or less traded baskets over the next minute and a half of play and Langhorne missed the front end of a 1 and 1, the Terps got the ball back and Frese called for a high ball screen with Langhorne setting the pick at the top of the arc. Lindsey Harding went under the screen and Toliver squared up and calmly drained the three that brought the Terps within five at 51-46 with nine and a half minutes in regulation.
Key Moment Number 7 - "LET'S F'IN GO!"
If you remember, my first key moment was Coach Frese getting in Marissa Coleman's face with about two and a half minutes to play in the first half. To that point, Coleman was 1 for 3 shooting, only had 3 rebounds but also had two turnovers, no assists and a foul. From that point to the end of the half, the freshman responded with two rebounds and an assist and only one turnover. But her second half play would be even better. She started the second half shooting two for three and picked up two more rebounds. When this moment came, Maryland was down by three and Duke had possession. Jade Perry was in the game for Langhorne who was on the bench with three fouls. Perry, at 5'11" had to guard Bales at 6'7". She used her strength to force Bales to turn toward the baseline and miss a shot. Coleman grabbed the rebound and sprinted out flanked by three teammates with only one Duke player back. She pulled up at the free throw line, faked a pass, and sank a jumper to make the score 57-56. As she sprinted back down the court, guess what she hollered.
Key Moment Number 8 - Doron Reappears
After Duke made one of two from the line, Shay Doron, who'd ignited the Terps early in the half but had been quiet for a few minutes, drew a foul driving to the basket. Two important things happened on this play. First, the foul she drew was on Monique Currie. Remember that seemingly inconsequential foul Currie picked up at the end of the first half? Well, this was her fourth. Second, when Doron made both free throws, the game was tied at 58. And the TD Bank Garden was getting very loud
Key Moment Number 9 - Getting Their Noses in Front
Although it wouldn't last long, the Terps would take the lead on their next possession. Following a Duke miss and another Coleman rebound, Maryland ran a pick and roll with Coleman hitting Langhorne who drew a foul and, with 5:22 left, made one of two free throws to put the Terps ahead for the first time since the score was 2-1.
Key Moment Number 10 - The Take Down
There were fifty eight seconds left in regulation. Maryland was down 64-68 and Duke had possession. As Duke missed a jumper, Shay Doron locked arms with Mistie Williams. Doron may have initiated the play but as each player tried to free herself from the other, Doron raised her free arm for the official to see just as Williams was spinning away and slamming Shay to the floor drawing a foul on Williams. Doron's elbow went numb and she had to sit because of the injury. Ashleigh Newman, who replaced her, made one of two free throws.
Key Moment Number 11 - The First Fade Away
After Newman's free throw, Duke missed their next shot. However, they pulled down an offensive rebound and the Terps had to foul. Abby Waner clanged the front end of the 1 and 1 off the back of the rim and Doron who had returned to the game after the foul, ran down the long rebound. She got the ball to Toliver who faked right, then spun left across the lane before hitting a fade away from about twelve feet with 25 seconds left to make the score 67-68.
Key Moment Number 12 - The Second Fade Away
Duke calls time out. Currie inbounds to Bales and Toliver tries to foul her but sort of bounces off her as she's making a pass and no foul is called. Duke manages to run off about 7 seconds before Harper fouls Foley who makes both. Here's what happened next:
If you need to know, the overtime went like this: Neither team scored for nearly three minutes. Duke got the first basket on a jumper at the end of the shot clock. Doron tied the score with two free throws. Duke scored again to go up 74-72. Doron took a step through jumper in the lane that was almost identical to one she'd missed early in the first half. This time she didn't miss. Score tied. Bales makes one of two free throws and Coleman rebounds the miss.
Now, remember the high ball screen in moment six? The Terps ran the same play. This time Lindsey Harding tried to go around the screen and picked up a foul in the process. It's her fifth and she has to take a seat on the bench. Toliver makes both free throws and Maryland has the lead. Duke misses a shot. Coleman grabs the rebound and is fouled. She calmly drops in both free throws. Thirteen point four seconds left and the score is 78-75. Toliver hounds Waner up the court and forces a wide pass to Foley who launches a hurried long distance shot that is well short. Coleman is credited with her fourteenth rebound and the Terps prove again that "Overtime is Our Time."