STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- In Chris Weller's mind, her ninth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team will play the perfect game only when it commits fewer than 10 turnovers and grabs 10 more rebounds than its opponent.
By that definition, the Terps did not play the perfect game last night here against No. 7 Penn State. But they did nearly everything else perfectly, in trouncing the Nittany Lions, 85-58, before 2,871 disbelieving fans.
Maryland (5-0), which broke Penn State's 29-game regular-season home winning streak, applied intense defensive pressure to force 29 Nittany Lions turnovers and hold Penn State to 31 percent shooting from the field.
"We were relying on our defense as our primary offensive weapon and we were pleased with the way it worked out," said Weller.
The win will almost certainly move the Terps into their highest position in the polls since their No. 5 ranking at the end of the 1988-89 season, the last time they were in the Final Four.
Maryland dominated the slower Nittany Lions (4-2) on both ends of the court, handing them their worst drubbing here since the 1988-89 Terps beat them by 34.
The Terps stole entry passes into the middle, then triggered their fastbreak for easy transition points.
Junior post players Michele Andrew, a 6-foot-1 native of Helsinki, Finland, and Jessie Hicks, a 6-4 center from Richmond, Va., were the benefactors of the Maryland possessions. They constantly got open inside and also hit tough shots when guarded.
Andrew scored 19 points, pulled down nine rebounds and clamped down on Penn State senior Susan Robinson, a 6-1 All-America candidate, who had just eight points.
"I was so excited about this game because I've heard so much about Penn State," said Andrew. "There wasn't any magic, just regular defense like in practice."
"By us playing hard and playing intense defense, we weren't too shocked [with their performance]," said Hicks, who added 14 points and seven rebounds. "It was just our defense and intensity."
"Maryland has incredible team speed on the court, and their two inside players killed our post players," said Penn State coach Rene Portland.
The Terps jumped out early and never let up, taking a 44-28 halftime lead, as they shot 65 percent from the floor for the half and took Penn State out of its zone defense.
"In the beginning of the game, we did play some decent zone defense," said Portland. "They just made some incredible shots."
In the second half, Maryland committed 12 of its 25 turnovers and shot 32 percent.
But the Terps led by as many as 30, as they constantly forced the Nittany Lions into turnovers.
"The last thing we said coming out of the locker room was, 'May the best team win,' " said Weller.
And so it did.