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Unlike the national championship game played last night, we got a thriller tonight in basketball. While the Florida blew out UCLA and ended an otherwise boring Final Four, the women's Final Four ended in spectacular fashion.
Maryland won its first ever women's basketball national championship, defeating Duke 78-75 in overtime. There were some similarities, with one team jumping out to a sizable first half lead. The Terps were down as much as 13 at one point during this game, with the margin being 10 at the half. It was the second largest comeback in women's championship game history. All five Maryland starters were in double figures. Terps point guard Kristi Tolliver hit a three with 7 seconds left to tie the ballgame just to send it to overtime.
Maryland won the national title despite being the only team in the Final Four who wasn't a number one seed (albeit a number two), especially since the three most well-regarded teams were their opponents. North Carolina was the best team all season, but Maryland was the only team that had their number, defeating the Heels once in the regular season followed by their National Semifinal game. Duke was probably second best, with a real star in Monique Currie. Even more impressive is how quickly Maryland has become a power; their coach just took over the team five years ago and suffered a 10-18 record her first season.
Maryland will be the team to beat next year. Like the Gators, the team is stacked with young players, so unless Tennessee or UConn has some crazy recruiting class they'll start the season as the #1 team in the polls.
Congrats to them, and to Duke for putting on a real show that the men couldn't.
Tue 04/04/06, 7:37 pm EST