COLLEGE PARK -As Marissa Coleman gingerly made her way off the court during the final minute of 11th-ranked Maryland's 94-78 victory over Virginia last night, the announced 7,053 fans at Comcast Center rose to give the senior a standing ovation. She typified the Terrapins' gritty, focused effort against the 17th-ranked Cavaliers and had the wounds to show for it: Her legs were cramping, and her knees were bloodied and wrapped with tape.
"That game actually felt like a heavyweight match, versus a basketball game," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said afterward. "I just loved the toughness that we showed."
Coleman and fellow senior Kristi Toliver, as they often are, were the catalysts behind Maryland's fourth win over a ranked opponent this season. Coleman scored a season-high 28 points and also had seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocked shots. She passed Vicky Bullett (1,928 points) to move into second place on the program's career scoring list, and now has 1,931 and trails only Crystal Langhorne (2,247).
Toliver added 25 points and five assists in the Terps' fourth straight victory overall, becoming just the fourth player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to surpass 700 career assists (she has 704).
"Toliver and Coleman just had outstanding games," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. "We didn't do much to defend them."
The Terrapins (20-4, 8-2), who host nonconference foe Rutgers (14-9) on Sunday, are alone in second place in the ACC, a half game behind No. 14 Florida State (20-5, 8-1). Virginia (19-6, 5-4) dropped into a tie for fifth place with Georgia Tech (18-6, 5-4) and Boston College (17-7, 5-4). The top four teams receive a first-round bye in the conference tournament, which begins March 5 in Greensboro, N.C.
Virginia's 89-81 victory Jan. 30 marked the first time any of the current Terrapins had lost to their regional rival, but it was the way they lost that really stung. Virginia overcame a 13-point second-half deficit by doing many of the things Maryland prides itself on: The Cavaliers were tougher, faster and more aggressive. And they relied on essentially three players: Guard Monica Wright, forward Lyndra Littles and center Aisha Mohammed combined to score 77 points, including 52 of the team's final 56 points.
"We let one slip away [in Charlottesville]. We had that game," Coleman said. "Like Coach B says, sometimes we just go scatterbrained and go crazy. That's exactly what happened at UVA. We talked about it: There was no way we were going to lose this game tonight. We were going to hustle after loose balls, we were going to do all the little things that lost us that game in Charlottesville."