shay doron 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Trailing by four points with only 58 seconds left in regulation, Shay Doron remained on the floor, clutching her right elbow in pain. But, just as her team proved on Tuesday night, when the Lady Terps fall down, they get back up.
Doron walked off the floor only to return 23 seconds later and help Maryland overcome a 13-point deficit and beat Duke 78-75 in overtime to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I women's basketball national championship.
"I lost the feeling in my arm and I was trying to move it," Doron said. "I didn't want to leave the game. I mean, it's the biggest game of my life. I knew my team needed me on the court."
Doron demonstrated just how valuable she is to her team after Maryland sent the game into the extra period.
The 21-year-old Israeli scored Maryland's first four points in overtime, including a left-handed hook shot on a crafty up-and-under move in the paint, to help Maryland keep pace with Duke at 74 points apiece.
"That's the thing with us: Every different overtime [this season], someone else stepped up and tonight it was me," Doron said. "I knew a freshman was guarding me. I don't think anyone can stop me one-on-one in the country, especially not a freshman. And I just took it at her."
The freshman, Abby Waner, had a chance to give Duke the lead after Kristi Toliver hit a pair of free throws to put Maryland ahead 76-75, but Waner missed a short jumper off the left side of the rim. Maryland's Marissa Coleman hauled in the rebound and was fouled with 13.4 seconds showing on the clock. She hit both free throws, but not after getting some helpful advice from her leader.
"I told her, 'There's no pressure, we're up one,'" said Doron, who spoke with Coleman alone at half-court before she went to the line. "'No pressure at all, just knock these free throws down like you're in the gym by yourself.'"
Duke had a chance to tie, but Jessica Foley's desperation three at the buzzer fell short, grazing the rim.
Maryland's chances looked bleak when the team headed into the locker room at halftime trailing 38-28. Duke's confidence and momentum unknowingly inspired Maryland.
"We heard them screaming at halftime like they'd already won," Doron said. "I told the girls, 'If you walk out on this court, you better believe we're winning. Otherwise, don't walk out on the court."
With 14:53 remaining, even the believers must have begun to doubt. Foley drilled a three-pointer to extend Duke's lead to 45-32 as the Blue Devils looked to be on cruise control to winning their school's first title.
Over the next eight-and-a-half minutes, however, the Lady Terps went on a 26-13 run bookended by trips to the free throw line by Doron, whose two free throws tied the game at 58 with 6:15 to play in regulation.
The game went into an extra five-minute overtime after Lindsey Harding's baseline leaner from the right side caromed off the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
"As soon as it left my hand, I knew it was going in," Toliver said. "I knew I was going to take that shot. Big-time players take big-time shots."
"That was a huge shot for [Toliver]," Bales said. "I was the one on her. She was behind the line a good step at least. To win the championship, you have to be able to hit big shots and Maryland did that today."
Maryland finished the season 6-0 in overtime, justifying their adoption of the motto, "Overtime is our time," which the players chanted during their celebration on the court. The championship is the first for the Maryland women's team in school history.
Maryland out-rebounded Duke 42-41, bringing their record to 33-1 this season when they out-rebound their opponent.
Doron, Toliver, and Laura Harper each scored 16 points for the Terps. Crystal Langhorne added 12 and Coleman contributed 10 points and 14 rebounds. All-American Monique Currie led Duke with 22 points. Bales posted 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Maryland, which had been doubted all season because of its youth, returns seven of the eight players in its rotation - including all five starters - to a team that will look to repeat as national champions.
"The team has proven itself," said head coach Brenda Frese. "From this point forward there will be more respect."