Eleven days ago, the Virginia women's basketball team fought a hard battle against #2 and undefeated Notre Dame. The "Hoos scrapped their way to within two points of the Fighting Irish, but the upset bid fell short, as they found themselves on the wrong side of a 77-72 final score.
This evening, the #6 Maryland Terrapins invaded John Paul Jones Arena to face Virginia for the last time as ACC opponents. The Terps came in on a 14-game winning streak, their only loss coming against undefeated and consensus #1 Connecticut back in November. This was the fourth game in a row for the Cavaliers against a ranked foe - the aforementioned Notre Dame game kicked things off. In between they had lost to #3 Duke and beaten #17 Florida State.
From the opening tip it was clear that Virginia had come to play. The same intensity that was present against the Irish was evident against the Terps. And three Cavalier seniors - Ataira Franklin, Lexie Gerson and Kesley Wolfe - would not be denied on this night.
With the halftime score sitting at 38-34 in favor of the visitors, the Cavaliers came out from the locker room with a sense of purpose. A layup by Sarah Imovbioh, assisted by Wolfe, cut the deficit in half. A trey by Gerson gave the Cavaliers their first lead since the 7 minute mark of the first half. Layups by Imovbioh and Gerson and a pair of free throws by Franklin extended the Cavalier lead to 7 and the Terrapins would never recover.
Timely buckets and terrific defense by the senior leaders down the stretch kept Maryland on its heels for most of the second half. While they would get within 2 or 3 points a couple more times, they spent most of the half looking at multiple-possession deficits that just didn't seem to go away. Sixteen Terrapin turnovers had a lot to do with that - and the Cavaliers had a lot to do with those turnovers.
Kelsey Wolfe led Virginia with 24 points. She also pulled down five rebounds and had three assists. Ataira Franklin and Faith Randolph poured in 19 points each, while Lexie Gerson and Sarah Imovbioh both contributed a dozen. Interestingly, those five - who all scored in double figures - were the only five to score at all for Virginia. That's right - zero points off the bench. I guess that's the lone concern on a day like this?
The Cavaliers now head to Syracuse on Sunday to face the Orange at 2pm. It's the first of a bit of a road swing for Virginia, with a home game against Clemson sandwiched between road contests at Syracuse, Wake Forest, Boston College and Georgia Tech. None of those five programs are ranked in the top 25 currently, though Syracuse and Georgia Tech are both receiving votes.