CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Joanne Boyle minced no words after Virginia got rocked early and lost 73-56 to No. 8 Maryland.
“It’s our worst game of the year,” the Cavaliers’ first-year coach said Thursday night. “I mean, we got outrebounded by 24. The name of the game is how many second-chance points are you going to give a team? Forty-eight points in the paint. I just felt we just laid down there in the first half.”
The fact that Virginia woke up in the second half, outscoring Maryland 35-29? No consolation, Boyle said, comparing it to a loss against North Carolina earlier in the season when a slow start proved too much to overcome.
“The girls know I’m not going to lower the bar and be happy with moral victories that we played a good half against Maryland,” she said. “We’re not at that stage anymore.”
The Terrapins (22-4, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) dominated in every regard, outrebounding the Cavaliers 53-26, turning 22 offensive rebounds into 23 points and scoring 30 of their first 32 points in the paint as Virginia’s defense did little to impede their moves toward the basket.
“They were either layups or putbacks,” Boyle said.
The Cavaliers (18-9, 6-7) trailed 44-21 at halftime and closed to within 57-46 with about nine minutes left, then stalled.
“We just had to find a way to keep chipping away, but we didn’t do that,” said Ariana Moorer, who led Virginia with 23 points.
Instead, Tianna Hawkins hit a jumper to boost the lead back to 13, and Alicia DeVaughn scored on a putback to steady things.
Hawkins scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and Alyssa Thomas added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Maryland.
The Cavaliers came into the game ranked 18th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 52.9 points per game, but nearly gave up that many by halftime as the Terrapins built a 22-8 cushion and dominated inside. They finished the half with a 29-10 rebounding advantage.
Hawkins had 15 points and 10 rebounds by the break, and Maryland’s 15 second-chance points almost matched Virginia’s total.
“It was pretty close to as flawless a first half as it could get,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “I thought we really set
the tone tonight with our defense and our rebounding. Those are the things you have to have, especially as you’re going down the stretch here in February and into the postseason.”
The Terrapins stretched their margin to 24 several times in the second half before Virginia rallied. A jumper by Franklin, two free throws by Moorer and a steal and layup by Moorer made it 57-46, inciting the crowd and prompting Frese to call timeout.
Hawkins steadied things with a jumper, and after Virginia missed, DeVaughn’s putback rebuilt the lead to 61-46.
The Cavaliers lost 68-61 at College Park on Jan. 16, but quickly found themselves hoping just to get that close in the rematch.
After Chelsea Shine’s 10-foot jumper opened the scoring, Maryland scored 22 of the next 28 points to take command.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)