March 22, 2009

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Maryland's opening game in the NCAA tournament can best be summed up by the halftime score: Kristi Toliver 23, Dartmouth 23.

Toliver finished with 27 points on 11-for-14 shooting, and the third-ranked Terrapins extended their winning streak to 13 with an 82-53 victory Sunday.

Top-seeded Maryland (29-4) will next face Utah on Tuesday in the second round of the Raleigh Regional. The Utes advanced with a 60-30 rout of Villanova.

Maryland bolted to an 8-0 lead and never trailed in winning its 35th straight home game. Toliver outscored Dartmouth 14-7 in helping the Terrapins build an early 15-point cushion, and the margin swelled to 19 at halftime.

Brittney Smith scored 13 for 16th-seed Dartmouth (18-11), the Ivy League champion. No Ivy League team has played in more NCAA tournaments (seven), but the Big Green still haven't won a game.

Dartmouth hoped to keep it close by slowing down the pace, but after the Big Green missed their first nine shots they had no choice but to begin playing with an increased sense of urgency. Problem was, Toliver couldn't miss and Dartmouth couldn't hit the broad side of the backboard.

Toliver sank her first five shots, including a pair of 3-pointers. On the other end of the court, the Big Green opened 3-for-22 from the floor in falling behind 22-7.

Had Toliver not been rested for three minutes in the first half, the senior guard almost certainly would have outscored the Big Green before intermission. She exited for good with 11:28 left in the game and Maryland up 60-37.

It was 35-20 before Toliver made two layups and a 3-pointer in a 7-1 burst that put the Terps ahead 42-21. The second layup came on a no-look pass from senior Marissa Coleman, who, along with Toliver, are the lone holdovers from the 2006 national championship team.

Coleman finished with 13 rebounds, nine points and five assists.

In the second half, Dartmouth closed to 52-37 before the Terrapins pulled away with an 8-0 run that ended with Toliver hitting the bench for good. After that, just about the only time she rose to her feet was to applaud when a teammate skidded to the sideline in pursuit of a loose ball.

Attendance was 10,847, an increase of more than 3,000 from the crowd of 7,580 at Maryland's first-round game last year at Comcast Center.