Terps loss is hardly ladylike


COLLEGE PARK -- There are words that can be used to describe what the top-ranked Virginia women's basketball team did to Maryland in winning 111-74 last night, but this is a family newspaper.

The Cavaliers (25-1, 13-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) not only scored the most points ever against Maryland in 20 years of women's play, they also handed the Terps their worst loss of all-time.

"There's no way that we're 40 points better than they are," said Virginia coach Debbie Ryan.

Maybe not, but the efficiency with which the Cavaliers ran their break, pressed the Terps into oblivion and just caused overall havoc made it seem as if they were even better than that.

"I think Virginia played about as perfect a game as I've seen them play," said coach Chris Weller, whose Terps fell to 15-11 and 8-4.

Oddly enough, it was Weller herself who might have given a tacit, though inadvertent, signal for the Cavaliers to pour it on.

It seems that Ryan and Weller chatted a bit about their first meeting last month, when Virginia beat Maryland 76-59 in Charlottesville, forcing 37 turnovers.

Weller told her Virginia colleague she wished Ryan had left her first team in a bit longer so her younger and inexperienced Terps could get a taste of playing against superior opponents.

So, last night, given the opportunity, Ryan left her starters in, pulling the last one with 1:59 left and the Cavaliers ahead by 36.

"Gosh, I forgot I told her that," said Weller. "Oh, what an idiot. I meant that in the last game. She didn't want to do that today. I think she knew what was going on."

It wasn't a hard game to figure.

The Cavaliers, winners of 14 straight, scored on 13 of their first 14 possessions, and forced the Terps into 17 first-half turnovers.

"I don't think our team lacked for effort," said Weller, after her third straight loss. "They tried."

"We basically took them out of their halfcourt offense," said Ryan. "We limited them to transition baskets and they didn't get a lot of those. That's a credit to our defense."

On the offensive end, Virginia pounded the ball inside and wore down the Terps. Melanee Wagener, a 6-foot-2 forward from Mount Airy and South Carroll High, scored a career-high 18 points from in close.

"She was a huge part of our offense early on," said Ryan. "She's got a great shot."

Wagener, playing before hometown fans, confessed to some pre-game jitters, but said she settled down once the game began, especially with junior guards Dawn Staley and Tammi Reiss feeding her inside.

"I was nervous at first, but it turns into just another game once the ball goes up," said Wagener, who joined the other four Virginia starters in double figures.

"Our guards gave me the opportunity to score. I give them all the credit."

The Cavaliers can become the first women's team to complete a 14-game regular-season ACC schedule undefeated with a win Saturday over seventh-ranked North Carolina State in Charlottesville.

University Hall is sold out, and Ryan is hopeful the Cavaliers can tune out the pre-game hype.

"I have to keep reminding them not to pay attention to the press clippings because it only takes once," said Ryan.

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