Virginia is no match in teams' ACC opener

In gray T-shirts and black warmup pants, Essence Townsend, Laurin Mincy and Brene Moseley sat side-by-side on the Maryland bench, matching the number of players next to them in uniform. Each of the three has a torn ACL, leaving coach Brenda Frese with precious few options when she looks to her bench.

Even on a night when the No. 9 Terrapins are up by a comfortable margin, there are anxious moments, especially when a player sustains a foul -- another error closer to disqualification -- or tumbles to the floor with a possible injury.

So it was with a greater sigh of relief than usual Thursday night when junior Katie Rutan rattled home a 3-point shot from in front of the Maryland bench, giving the Terps a healthy margin midway through the second half of a surprisingly decisive 79-55 victory over Virginia.

Led by junior Alyssa Thomas (20 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals), senior Tianna Hawkins (20 points, 12 rebounds) and freshman Tierney Pfirman (17 points), Maryland took control early and never trailed before 3,898 at Comcast Center.

"It started with defense," Thomas said. "We made steals, and they led to offense."

Maryland's plight was put into focus in the final minutes when Hawkins and Thomas fouled out on consecutive Virginia possessions. By that time, however, victory was assured and the Terps could share a laugh about their misfortune.

With 21 turnovers, there were rough patches throughout for Maryland (5-2). But those were to be expected as Mincy and Moseley were slated for much of the ball-handling this season. Freshman Chloe Pavlech failed to score on five shots but had a solid floor game with six assists vs. two turnovers.

Against a Virginia team that had handed ranked Vanderbilt a defeat, Maryland won with its constants -- defense and an overwhelming edge on the boards. The Cavaliers (5-3) shot 25 percent from the floor, 22.2 percent from the arc and were outrebounded 50-29.

After three straight turnovers, Thomas sparked the Terps to a 7-0 run that was all her doing as she hit two free throws, followed with a 3-point-play and came down with a rebound and outlet to Pfirman for a breakaway layup and a 22-10 lead.