After getting pummeled in their conference opener versus North Carolina State, the Maryland Terrapins (13-3, 1-1 ACC) had plenty of motivation to play smart basketball tonight in Charlottesville.
With the embarrassing 73-45 loss still fresh in their minds, the Lady Terps hit the floor running, and held off a feisty Virginia squad for a 61-60 road win.
The Terps also ruined a special night for a very special player. Senior Virginia Guard Monica Wright became the Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer after recording 20 points, surpassing legendary former star, Dawn Staley.
Maryland was more lucky than good, as they turned the ball over 28 times, but also held the sharpshooting Cavs to 30.8 percent shooting for the game.
For the Cavaliers (11-4 0-2, ACC) the loss has a once strong ACC contender reeling for answers with the bulk of their conference schedule looming ahead.
Northern Virginia native Lynetta Kizer (Potomac, VA High School) provided her team with solid posterior play finishing her night with 19 points and 14 rebounds. She bounced off the Virginia defensive pressure with relative ease to get easy quick baskets, as Maryland relinquished the lead only twice in the game.
With 13:01 left in the second half Monica Wright single-handily awoke Virginia out of their offensive slumber. She nailed a three-pointer to break Staley's record of 2,135 points, forcing a timeout to be called.
The sea of orange and black briefly halted the intense action with a much deserved standing ovation for their dominate diva.
Wright's shot capped a 10-2 run, and pulled the Cavs to within one point. The score was 43-42.
Three minutes later, Chelsea Shine's free throw gave Virginia its second lead of the game at 50-49.
Then the scoring became stagnant.
Both teams failed to protect the basketball. Finally, at the eight minute mark, Kizer swished the bottom of the net, and Lori Bjork followed up that basket with a three-pointer to put Maryland back on top 54-50.
Virginia too often was forced into playing at Maryland's pace. Still, they had their chances to break out of the Terrapin press. They made 8-of-13 free throw attempts. However, Telia McCall missed a big one with 11 seconds to play.
That miss was followed by two missed attempts at the charity stripe by Terps' forward Diandra Tchatchouang. Tchatchouang scored two points on 1-of-9 field goal attempts for the game.
The Cavaliers advanced the ball, and called a timeout with 3.1 seconds left on the game clock.
There was no doubt whose number would be called as the Cavaliers broke out of their huddle. Monica Wright received the inbounded ball and was immediately converged upon.
She threw up a wild shot as the final buzzer sounded, looking around in disbelief. The referee kept the whistle in her pocket, and Maryland trotted out of enemy territory with a gritty victory.
As ugly as the game was at times, it is she who gets the last gasp that can claim bragging rights until the next battle.
Dawn Staley led the Cavaliers to three final four appearances in four years. (1989-1992)
She coaches at South Carolina after previously coaching the Temple Owls and the Charlotte Sting of the WNBA respectively.
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