TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- For such a highly ranked women's basketball team, the University of Maryland has been a notoriously slow starter this season. Last night against unranked Florida State, the Terrapins started -- and finished -- poorly.
The combination proved disastrous for the No. 3 team in the country. The Seminoles, with three victories already over nationally ranked teams, added to their reputation as giant-killers with a stunning 68-61 upset of the Terps at Tully Gym.
"Florida State played a great game," said Maryland coach Chris Weller, whose team had its seven-game winning streak broken. "We saw them on tape against North Carolina, and they played the same way tonight."
Behind a career-high 33 points by Danielle Ryan, Florida State (8-3, 3-2 in the ACC) built an early eight-point lead and never folded after Maryland (9-2, 2-1) seemingly regained control midway in the second half.
Leading 40-39 on a rebound follow by Jessie Hicks with 10:21 left, the Terps watched as Ryan and the Seminoles went on a 15-6 run to build their lead back to eight. Maryland never got closer than five as Florida State made its free throws down the stretch.
"I had the hot hand," said Ryan, a 5-foot-10 senior guard from Medford Lakes, N.J., who finished the night 12 of 15 from the field, including eight of eight in the second half. "My teammates did a good job of setting screens and getting me open."
The defeat, the first for Maryland since a home loss to Iowa last month at Cole Field House, will cost the Terps their highest ranking of the season. It also will likely put Florida State in the Top 25 for the first time since joining the ACC.
"I hope the pollsters take a real hard look at what we've been doing," said Florida State coach Marynell Meadors, whose Seminoles had previously beaten Miami, Tennessee Tech and most recently North Carolina. "I just felt our team was not going to be denied."
Maryland had trailed at halftime on four occasions this season, but came back three times to win. The Terps put themselves in a similar hole last night, getting off to a horrendous start by missing 10 of their first 12 shots and committing 10 turnovers in the first 12 minutes.
It turned out to be an omen for what turned into an ominous evening for the Terps. Weller, hampered by early foul trouble to starters Bonnie Rimkus and Hicks, tried a number of combinations. In the end, none of them really worked.
"Our flexibility may be our biggest handicap," said Weller, whose team's four-game road trip continues tomorrow at No. 23 Georgia Tech and ends Saturday at Duke. "We're not smooth. Each lineup has something we still have to work on."
Though their pressure defense helped bring the Terps back late in the first half, and enabled them to take the lead early in the second, their offense never really got in sync. Despite shooting a respectable 47.3 percent from the field, the Terps self-destructed with 25 turnovers.
"We couldn't get open inside," said Hicks, who didn't score her first basket until early in the second half but still managed a team-high 18 points, along with nine rebounds. "Their defense was a factor as well."
Said Weller, "We lost Bonnie and Jessie early on to foul trouble. I don't think we really got them back in the game. They were on the court, but they weren't in the game."
In the end, neither was Maryland.
Another slow start had caught up with the Terps.
MARYLAND -- Colleton 4-10 2-2 10, Hicks 7-11 4-5 18, Andrew 3-5 0-0 6, Boles 5-12 3-5 13, Rimkus 5-10 0-1 10, Patterson 1-1 0-0 2, Ferguson 0-1 0-0 0, Bennett 0-1 0-0 0, Camper 1-3 0-0 2, Adams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-55 9-13 61.
FLORIDA STATE -- Derlak 0-4 1-2 1, Paschal 5-9 2-3 12, Peercy 2-4 7-8 11, Ryan 12-15 8-10 33, Woods 2-2 1-2 5, Arnoldi 1-1 0-0 2, Taylor 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 24-39 19-25 68.
Halftime--Florida St. 27, Maryland 26. 3-point goals--Maryland 0-3 (Boles 0-1, Rimkus 0-2), Florida St. 1-1 (Ryan 1-1). Rebounds--Maryland 28 (Hicks 9), Florida St. 24 (Derlak, Woods 6). Assists--Maryland 16 (Boles 5), Florida St. 14 (Peercy 7). Total fouls--Maryland 21, Florida St. 14. Fouled out--None. A--849.