7:00 PM ET, February 8, 2007
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland is showing signs of recovering from a mini-slump that dropped the defending national champions into fourth place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.Kristi Toliver scored 19 points, Crystal Langhorne had 15, and the sixth-ranked Terrapins used an impressive defensive performance to coast past Virginia Tech 78-59 Thursday night."I thought we got better tonight. We made another step forward," said coach Brenda Frese, whose team has won two in a row after dropping successive games to North Carolina and Georgia Tech. "I really like where our defensive intensity and focus is."The Terrapins (23-3, 7-3) scored 45 points in the first half and shot 60 percent before emptying the bench, but Frese was far more excited about a swarming defense that limited the Hokies (16-10, 5-5) to 26 points after halftime."I thought our defensive energy and intensity brought our offense," she said. "Every night we should be able to bring our defense, regardless of how shots are falling. I'm pleased with the progression we're making."Frese has convinced the Terrapins that their chances of successfully defending their title depends heavily on their ability the defend."We made progression on the defensive end. We just have to try to continue to get better," guard Marissa Coleman said. "One of main focuses in practice is defensive energy and intensity. Each game we've been playing, we've been getting better at it."Coleman scored 12 points and Laura Harper contributed eight points and eight rebounds for the Terrapins. Maryland made 60 percent of its field-goal attempts during the first 30 minutes and finished 32-for-61, led by Langhorne (7-for-8) and Toliver (7-for-10).But the defense made the difference."I thought we had a tough time getting in sync offensively, but that was a credit to Maryland," Hokies coach Beth Dunkenberger said. "Maryland's defense was much improved. That had as much to do with it as anything."Brittany Cook scored 12 points, and Britney Anderson and Kirby Copeland had 10 apiece for Virginia Tech. The Hokies, who came in with five wins in six games, fell to 0-5 against ranked teams this season.After Toliver scored 15 first-half points to stake the Terrapins to a 12-point lead, Langhorne took over after halftime, scoring nine points in the paint during the opening 8 minutes to put Maryland up 60-40."Once [Toliver] hit some open shots, we stretched our defense too much," Dunkenberger said.Early on, Maryland struggled.The Terps led 13-10 before Copeland made two straight baskets to give the Hokies their first lead. After 9 minutes, Maryland had seven turnovers and trailed 20-15.That's when the Terrapins began to show the form that enabled them to open the season with 18 successive wins.A basket by Ashleigh Newman, a 3-pointer by Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood and two straight layups by Harper gave Maryland a 24-20 lead. Minutes later, Toliver scored eight points during a 10-0 run that stretched the margin to a dozen.Then, after the Hokies closed to 40-33, Toliver ended the first-half scoring with a 3-pointer and a driving layup.Maryland opened the second half with a 10-3 spurt to take a 55-36 lead. The Terrapins made five of six field-goal attempts during the run, including a 3-for-3 effort by Langhorne.