COLLEGE PARK — With a little more than eight minutes remaining in Tuesday night's game between the top two women's college basketball teams in the country, No. 2 Virginia held a narrow two-point lead over top-ranked Maryland.
Cole Field House was filled to capacity -- 14,500 -- an Atlantic Coast Conference women's record. Others fans were turned back.
Virginia forward Melanee Wagener, a South Carroll High grad, scrapped to get inside position after a teammate put up a jumper. The shot was off and the 6-foot-2 senior grabbed the rebound and put up a fade-away from five feet -- swish.
That hoop would start a 5-0 run and Virginia would go on to win, 75-74.
"It was a great win," Wagener said.
"My father called earlier and said he heard it was a sellout. It was the biggest crowd we've ever played against. It's a greatthing for women's athletics."
While most of the seats were filledwith Maryland red, a small wave of Virginia orange did its share to root on the visiting Cavaliers -- including Wagener's clan of family and friends from Carroll.
Packed house. No. 1 vs. No. 2. Family and friends on hand. Any extra pressure on Wagener?
"We've learned to handle the pressure. I just look to have a good game, and if I don't, I know my family still loves me," she said with a smile.
Wagener's numbers on the night were not overwhelming (four points and six rebounds) but her value to the Cavaliers team doesn't usually come in numbers. On the season, she's averaging just under six pointsa game and five-plus rebounds coming off the bench.
"I did some things tonight that don't show up in the final stats. I played solid defense," Wagener said.
"I'm not expected to score a lot of points.We have a lot of great players, and everyone has their role on the team. My role is to play solid defense and do some rebounding. When everyone is doing their role, we usually do OK."
The Cavaliers are doing more than OK. With Tuesday's win, they improved to 21-1 and tookover first place in the ACC at 11-1. They probably will regain the No. 1 spot in the country.
Last year at Cole Field House, Wagener scored a career-high 18 points to help lead the Cavaliers to victory. While that win ranks high on her list of memorable games, beating theNo. 1 team in front of the huge crowd this year is even more rewarding.
"It's the best I've felt after a win," she said.
"I'm more confident of our team than ever, but we have to keep in mind that it's a regular-season game and we'll be practicing again (Wednesday). Wecan't float on cloud nine because of it."
With March fast approaching, Wagener and the Cavaliers are looking to get right back into the NCAA finals. A year ago, they dropped a 70-67 decision to Tennesseein the championship game.
"We basically have the same team with one more year of experience," she said. "It would be a big disappointment (not winning the NCAAs) for me and the rest of the five seniors. It's our last chance.
"But I think I can speak for the entire teamin saying that the experience at Virginia and with the team has beenso special, win or lose, we would never leave on a bitter note. It'sbeen a rewarding experience."