March 29, 2009 in Sports

Coleman lights up Vandy

Maryland rides her career-high 42 points
Joedy Mccreary Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Vanderbilt’s Jessica Mooney and Maryland’s Anjali Barrett, top, battle for possession in second half.
(Full-size photo)

RALEIGH, N.C. – Marissa Coleman dropped into a crouch as the final horn sounded, emotionally drained and physically exhausted after the game of her life.

Never before had the Maryland senior scored that many points – and the Terrapins needed every single one to return to the regional finals.

Coleman scored a career-high 42 points, including the go-ahead basket with 27.9 seconds left, as Maryland rallied from 18 down to beat Vanderbilt 78-74 on Saturday.

“I just didn’t want my career to end,” Coleman said. “I love playing with this team, and I love wearing a Maryland uniform. That’s just what I told myself, that every time I walked onto the floor, I was going to defend, rebound, do whatever I needed to do to keep my career going.”

Maryland (31-4) will play No. 3 seed Louisville – coached by former Maryland assistant Jeff Walz – on Monday night for a spot in the Final Four.

Saturday, the No. 1 seed in the Raleigh Regional used a late 15-3 run to erase an 11-point deficit and didn’t lead until Demauria Liles hit a layup with 2:07 left.

Coleman – who surpassed her previous best of 32 points set a month ago against Boston College – nearly had to beat the Commodores by herself. She finished 15 for 27 from the field, made 10 of 11 free throws and had 15 rebounds. Coleman was 4 inches taller than Jennifer Risper, who guarded her.

“She put on a show,” Maryland teammate Kristi Toliver said. “She definitely took advantage of a 5-9 post player and she dominated from start to finish.”

Christina Wirth scored a career-high 28 points to lead No. 4 seed Vanderbilt (26-9).

Her free throws with 42.4 seconds left made it 74-all.

“In one media timeout, I just went to the coaching staff and said I wanted to guard (Wirth),” Coleman said. “She was getting off on us, and I didn’t want my career to end. So I was going to do whatever I could to defend her and limit her touches and her shot opportunities.”

Coleman then put Maryland ahead to stay on its next trip downcourt with a fallaway jumper over Jence Rhoads.

After Wirth’s jumper over Toliver rimmed out with about 12 seconds left, Coleman hit two free throws with 9.6 seconds remaining to clinch the Terps’ third trip to the regional finals in four seasons.

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