CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Lyndra Littles has been playing for Virginia for four years, yet she still finds it hard to read the emotions of the Cavaliers' longtime coach, Debbie Ryan. But the senior forward noticed that Ryan seemed quiet during the team's shoot-around yesterday, and she knew Ryan was in the midst of a draining week after the death of her longtime friend, Kay Yow.
So Littles and her teammates tried to do what they could to help their coach. She, senior forward Aisha Mohammed and junior guard Monica Wright combined to score 77 points and were the catalysts in a second-half rally in No. 19 Virginia's 89-81 victory over No. 8 Maryland in front of an announced 4,597 at John Paul Jones Arena.
"I guess you expect that from our senior class," said Littles, who scored a game-high 30 points.
There was a moment of joy when the final buzzer sounded on Virginia's first victory over Maryland since February 2005: Guard Britnee Millner gleefully tossed the ball high into the air. Millner and the rest of the Cavaliers' seniors had never beaten one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's power trio: Duke, North Carolina or Maryland.
Virginia (17-4, 4-2) and Maryland (16-4, 4-2) are tied for third in the ACC with North Carolina.
It was a difficult day for Ryan and Maryland coach Brenda Frese, who traveled together to North Carolina for the public viewing for Yow, the Hall of Fame N.C. State coach who died last week after a long battle with breast cancer. That experience put the loss - in which Maryland blew a 13-point second half lead and gave up 23 second-chance points - in perspective, Frese said.
Marissa Coleman led Maryland with 19 points.
Wright, the ACC's leading scorer, missed 10 of her first 12 shots yet finished with 28 points. Mohammed had 19 points and 16 rebounds.
The Terps, who led by nine at halftime, extended the advantage to 46-33 early in the second half after a drive by Dee Liles (18 points). But Virginia then scored seven straight points.
A pull-up from Littles tied the score at 51, and a three-pointer from Wright (Forest Park) gave Virginia its first lead since the first half, 56-54. Kristi Toliver (17 points) answered with a three-pointer, but the Cavaliers pulled away from there.
Littles scored seven points in the 11-0 Virginia run that broke open the game.
NO. 8 MARYLAND (16-4, 4-2 ACC) @NO. 18 FLA. STATE (18-4, 6-0)
Monday, 7 p.m.