- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 20, 2007

Maryland’s women’s basketball team made its first loss of the season a distant memory.

Laura Harper scored 21 points, Kristi Toliver added 20 and Crystal Langhorne 17 as the No. 3 Terrapins routed Virginia 95-68 last night before 11,118 at Comcast Center, shrugging off Saturday’s 19-point loss to Duke.

Maryland’s defensive intensity, perimeter marksmanship and overall execution, which was missing in last Saturday’s 81-62 blowout loss to the Blue Devils, returned last night.

“I don’t think we got anything different than we were going to get,” Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. “I know they lost the game the other day, but I didn’t feel like it was a game where I had to tell my team to be afraid. That doesn’t do any good. [Virginia’s players] knew what happened last week. We watched that game together. So, they knew what happened and we had to play them next.”

Harper, Toliver and forward Marissa Coleman, who scored 16 points against the Cavaliers (12-6, 2-2 ACC), redeemed themselves after poor performances against Duke.

The 6-foot-4 Harper powered her way through Virginia’s small interior, reaching double figures in scoring for the first time in three games. Against Duke, Harper made just three of 11 shots and finished with seven points. Harper finished last night’s game 8-for-14 from the field.

In the first half against the Cavaliers , Harper shot 6-for-8 and had 15 points. With Harper handling Maryland’s scoring load in the lane, the Terps shot a respectable 46.7 percent (14-for-30) in the first half for a commanding 42-27 halftime lead.

It was just the second time this season Harper scored 20 or more points. She also matched her career high with five blocks.

“After the Duke game, I personally realized that intensity needs to be brought even more from every single person,” Harper said. “I just tried to come out a little bit more intense [with] more energy, and things went well.”

Maryland (19-1, 3-1) set the tone early with its man-to-man defense, forcing Virginia to use up of shot clock. The Cavaliers shot just 35.1 percent (13-for-37) in the first half.

That took Virginia out of any sort of offensive rhythm, forcing the Cavaliers to play a lot of one-on-one basketball. Forward Lyndra Littles, from Archbishop Carroll High School, led Virginia, making 10 of 23 shots for a career-high 23 points.

“I was very pleased with our improvement defensively,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “It shows you the character of this team. We challenged them defensively this week and now the bigger picture is we’ve got to be consistent.”

Virginia had been blown out in its two previous games against ranked opponents — a 96-60 loss to then-No. 6 Connecticut on Dec. 18 and a 96-62 drubbing to North Carolina on Jan. 8.

Early in the second half, the Cavaliers pulled to within 48-35 with 17:17 left. Frese then called a timeout and the Terps went on a 12-2 run to push the lead up to 60-37 with 14:20 left.

Maryland shot 5-for-11 from 3-point range, led by Toliver who was 3-for-4. Toliver, who entered the game leading the ACC with 5.5 assists a game, had seven against Virginia.

With 1:02 left in the first half, Virginia guard Paulisha Kellum was whistled for a technical foul for body-slamming Coleman when they got their arms tangled fighting for a loose ball. That play fired up Coleman, propelling the sophomore to a 3-for-5 shooting performance in the second half in which she added a highlight-reel around-the-back pass to Harper on a fast break.

The Terps have little time to savor this victory since they play host to Wake Forest (8-10, 0-5) tomorrow at Comcast Center.

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