CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- It got to the point where the third-ranked Maryland women's basketball team had to shed blood and sweat to beat top-ranked Virginia, but in the end, it also shed tears of joy.
The Terps upset the Cavaliers, 67-65, last night to claim the early-season lead in the Atlantic Coast Conference race, and possibly the No. 1 ranking in the country when the polls come out next week.
Maryland coach Chris Weller declined to speculate whether the Terps, who have never been ranked No. 1 in the 17-year history of the program, would leap over second-ranked Tennessee.
"What are we going to do next? Get ready for North Carolina," said Weller, concerning Maryland's next opponent. "I don't want to make that kind of statement. We'll leave the rankings up to the pollsters."
However, Virginia coach Debbie Ryan had other thoughts.
"They outplayed us, they out-hustled us, they out-everythinged us. As far as I'm concerned, they're the best team in the country.
"We played a very unintelligent game," Ryan added. "I've not seen a lack of intelligence from this team since they were freshmen. Maryland deserved to win, no doubt."
The 2-inch scar on the left cheek of Maryland guard Malissa Boles stood as both a badge of honor, and the visible sign of effort expended by the Terps (13-1, 3-0 in the ACC) to topple Virginia on its home court before 8,662.
"I drove baseline and somebody scratched me. I'm not sure who it was. It really doesn't matter," said Boles, a 5-foot-11 junior guard from Milwaukee.
Boles scored 15 points, pulled down four rebounds and shut down Virginia senior guard Dawn Staley, last season's consensus national Player of the Year, limiting her to 11 points on 5-for-20 from the field.
"I gave her arm's length," said Boles. "You can't stop her, but you try to contain her."
And so Boles did, though it helped that the Cavaliers' starting perimeter players -- Staley, senior Tammi Reiss and junior Dena Evans -- shot a combined 8-for-35 from the field.
"We played out of character. That was not Virginia basketball," said Staley, a 5-5 senior from Philadelphia. "We lost our composure, and Maryland did a great job of sticking to their game plan."
The plan for Maryland was to beat the Cavaliers at their game, namely running and pressing, and it largely worked, as the Terps beat slower Virginia players time and again down the court for easy baskets.
"That's our style of game, and we decided not to change it," said Weller. "I was interested to see if we were quick enough to stay with them."
The Cavaliers (13-1, 3-1), who saw both their 15-game home win streak and their 13-game overall string end, played uncharacteristically sloppy basketball, committing 19 turnovers and blowing opportunities to win.
Every time the Cavaliers made an attempt to get into the game, Maryland would hit a shot or force a turnover.
When Virginia center Heather Burge, who had a game-high 29 points, hit a jump hook with 11 minutes, 19 seconds left to pull the Cavaliers within 53-51, Maryland guard Katrina Colleton made a jumper on the left wing to start a 9-0 run to give Maryland an 11-point lead with 7:35 left.
The Cavaliers responded with a late charge that culminated with a turnaround jumper from Burge that brought Virginia to within two with 2:42 left.
Guard Limor Mizrachi led Maryland with 16 points.
MARYLAND (13-1, 3-0) -- Andrew 5-11 2-3 12, Boles 7-17 1-2 15, Hicks 6-11 1-2 13, Mizrachi 6-11 2-2 16, Lee 2-6 0-1 4, Rimkus 1-5 0-0 2, Colleton 2-4 0-0 4, Christy 0-1 1-2 1. Totals: 29-66 7-12 67.
VIRGINIA (13-1, 3-1) -- Staley 5-20 1-3 11, Hei. Burge 5-9 2-3 12, Hea. Burge 13-20 3-8 29, Evans 1-3 0-0 3, Reiss 2-12 2-2 7, Wagener 0-3 0-0 0, Beale 1-2 0-0 3, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Lesoravage 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 26-71 8-16 65.
Halftime--Maryland 34-32. 3-point goals--UM 2-2 (Mizrachi 2-2); UV 3-7 (Staley 1-3, Evans 1-1, Reiss 1-3). Rebounds--UM 36 (Andrew, Mizrachi, Colleton 5); UV 46 (Hei. Burge 11). Assists--UM 12 (Mizrachi 5); UV 13 (Staley 4). Total fouls--UM 16; UV 15. Fouled out--None. A--8,662.