By Jeff White
CHARLOTTESVILLE — At Joanne Boyle’s postgame press conference Thursday night, UVa’s first-year women’s basketball coach was reminded that her team had outscored eighth-ranked Maryland in the second half.
Boyle wasn’t impressed. The Cavaliers’ goal is to put together two good halves, and their effort in the first 20 minutes had been abysmal.
“We expect more of ourselves. We have a higher standard,” Boyle said after UVa’s 73-56 loss at John Paul Jones Arena.
“We had this happen to us at [North] Carolina, and that should have been a teaching moment and a teaching point for us, and the girls know I’m not going to lower the bar and be happy with moral victories if we played a good half against Maryland. We’re not at that stage any more.”
When these teams met Jan. 16 in College Park, the Wahoos fell 68-61 in a fiercely contested game. The rematch was over, for all intents and purposes, by halftime. Maryland (9-4, 22-4) scored 34 of its 44 points in the paint and led by 23 at the break.
“It’s our worst game of the year,” said Boyle, whose team was coming off its most dominating performance, a 68-36 win over Clemson at JPJ.
For the Terrapins, meanwhile, it “was as pretty close to a flawless first half as you could get,” coach Brenda Frese said.
“It was not a complete game for us, but credit Virginia. I thought they came out really inspired in the second half and fought hard, had a lot of pride in what they were doing.”
That effort was noticeably absent before an intermission during which, Boyle said, her players challenged themselves to turn the game around.
Maryland’s Tianna Hawkins, who finished with 26 points (on 12-for-13 shooting) and 14 rebounds, had a double-double in the first half. Hawkins, a 6-3 junior, had as many rebounds — 10 — in the first half as UVa. For the game, the Terps (53) had more than twice as many rebounds as the Cavaliers (26).
“That was the most disappointing part,” Chelsea Shine said.
Shine, a senior forward, led Virginia’s post players with 4 rebounds. Junior center Simone Egwu, who fouled out in 18 minutes, had only 2 boards against the taller, stronger, more athletic Maryland frontcourt.
“We have played teams like that, with big posts, and you’re going to face big posts in the ACC and postseason play, too,” Shine said.
“We can’t change that, but we can change the way we approach that, and we can change the physicality that we take. If they’re hitting us, we should be able to hit back, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
The Terps were coming off a two-point loss to ACC rival Miami. “Great teams just know how to get back on track, and obviously they were focused to come in and play us,” Boyle said.
“There’s no disrespect to Maryland, and they’re a great team. I just don’t think we matched what we had in [College Park against] them.”
Senior guard Ariana Moorer led Virginia with 23 points, one shy of her career high, and also contributed 5 rebounds and 5 steals. Sophomore guard Ataira Franklin was the only other Cavalier to score in double figures, and she missed 12 of 15 shots from the floor.
Midway through the second half, UVa rallied for eight straight points to cut its deficit to 11. Maryland responded with a 10-0 run to extinguish Virginia’s comeback hopes.
“We just had to find a way to keep chipping away, and we didn’t do that,” Moorer said.
Three regular-season games remain for the ‘Hoos (6-7, 18-9). They probably need a strong finish to assure themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament.
The loss to Maryland doesn’t change the Cavaliers’ mindset, Moorer said Thursday night. “Keep staying aggressive. We can’t come out flat like we did this game, but we’ll hold on to it tonight, watch film tomorrow and then move on.”
UVa plays Sunday afternoon at Virginia Tech (3-10, 7-19). The ‘Hoos rallied to beat the Hokies 52-39 at JPJ on Jan. 12.