COLLEGE PARK -- For most of the night, the University of Maryland women's basketball team held its own defending against No. 5 North Carolina, the second-highest scoring team in xTC the country.
The Terps held the Tar Heels below their average of 91 points last night, but couldn't find the basket themselves and dropped a 79-67 decision at Cole Field House.
Maryland (8-8, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) went the final 4:45 of the first half and the first 4:55 of the second half without a basket, a drought in which its offensive output was four free throws.
The Terps' offensive performance was just the latest in what is rapidly becoming a nightmare season. The Terps, who have lost three straight and five of their past six, have failed to score 72 points, their season average, in eight of their past 10 games. They fell to 0-5 against ranked teams.
"We're trying to shoot more and have more success in our offense," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "We passed up a lot of shots. It's something we have to work on."
Maryland's senior front line of Bonnie Rimkus, Monica Adams and Michele Andrew was largely ineffective. Adams failed to score in eight foul-marred minutes, Andrew, who had 11 points in the first half, finished with 17, but did not score from the field in the second half until less than a minute remained.
Rimkus, who also had 17 points, became the ninth Maryland player to score 1,000 points and pull down 500 rebounds in a career, but shot 5-for-24 from the field and missed all six of her three-point attempts.
"I felt there might have been better shots, but I just need to hit more," said Rimkus. "I'm supposed to shoot the ball, so I'm going to shoot."
Said Weller: "People will say Bonnie struggled, but she played well. She has a big role and we have to go to her an awful lot. She took 24 shots and I thought every one of them she should have taken."
The Tar Heels (15-1, 6-1) weren't exactly razor-sharp, either, committing 28 turnovers, compared to Maryland's 25.
"We had a lot of two-on-ones and breakaways that we did not make," said North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell. "But you have to give Maryland credit. They're not as deep as they've been, but they play hard and they probably do the best job of any team we face at posting up."
The win was the first for North Carolina here in eight years and the first time Hatchell has beaten Maryland here in five tries.
"It's always been hard for us to play at Maryland. I'm not sure why, but this win means a lot for us seniors," said center Sylvia Crawley, who scored 15 points.
North Carolina freshman guard Marion Jones added 17 points and senior guard Tonya Sampson contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds.
The teams played a sloppy first half in which they combined for 21 fouls and 33 turnovers.
The Terps used overaggressive play from North Carolina and a deliberate half-court offense to forge an early 12-6 lead.
Andrew, who has been ineffective on offense through stretches of the season, had six points in the first five minutes to get Maryland started, though the Terps missed their first four free throws.
However, the Tar Heels found the range, especially from the three-point area, where they made four of 10 shots, and gained a 38-30 lead at halftime.