Monica Wright leads Virginia past ACC rival Maryland in women's basketball

By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 9, 2010; D04

Monica Wright hadn't forgotten her previous game against Maryland, and it wasn't because that was the game the senior guard broke Dawn Staley's all-time scoring record at Virginia.

No, the reason Wright remembers that Maryland game so well is that the Cavaliers lost, and she was determined not to let the same outcome befall her team again.

Wright turned in another explosive performance, scoring 22 of her 34 points in the second half to lead Virginia past Maryland, 82-68, on Monday night for the Cavaliers' first victory at Comcast Center since 2003.

As Maryland guard Lori Bjork aptly put it, "Tonight, they had Monica, and we didn't."

With her prolific outburst, Wright, the ACC scoring leader, achieved another milestone in her remarkable career at Virginia. Her 34 points gave her 2,327 for her career and moved her past North Carolina State's Linda Page into fourth place on the ACC career scoring list. She needs 41 points to take over third place.

"I definitely felt like I was in the zone," Wright said. "I really didn't hear the crowd. I didn't hear anything. The rim looks extremely bigger. Everything was falling."

Wright hadn't played well against Maryland the last time in Charlottesville, a 61-60 Terrapins victory. She finished with 20 points on 7-of-24 shooting.

"We don't want to lose to Maryland twice in the season," Wright said. "We definitely wanted to win in their house, because they won in our house. . . . We just definitely came out with the mentality that we weren't going to lose."

Wright got Virginia (17-6, 6-3 ACC) off to a good start by scoring 10 points in the first 12 minutes to stake the Cavaliers to a 20-11 lead. But then U-Va. became bogged down by foul trouble. Four Cavaliers had two or more fouls by halftime.

Maryland (16-8, 3-6) capitalized on Virginia's foul woes by going on a 14-2 run that put the Terrapins ahead, 30-26. They took a 38-32 lead early in the second half before Wright took over, scoring the first 12 points of the second half for Virginia.

The momentum-changing play of that run came when she stole the inbounds pass underneath the Virginia basket, made the layup and was fouled. She converted her free throw for the three-point play.

Virginia Coach Debbie Ryan, who has seen plenty of spectacular performances by Wright, was pleased with how Wright understood what her team needed her to do.

"She just saw a couple beads of daylight there when she would get the rebound herself and just go, and I knew that she wasn't going to stop," Ryan said. "She really found seams in the defense and was able to get to the basket and score and get fouled. She's an amazing player."

Maryland suffered its fourth consecutive home loss and fifth loss in its last seven games. It didn't help that the Terrapins' top two scorers were once again limited.

Lynetta Kizer did not start for the second consecutive game. Then when she did get in the game, she didn't last long. Kizer played only five minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls and was on the court a total of 17 minutes in the game. She finished with nine points and four rebounds.

Diandra Tchatchouang, who needed two IVs to treat effects of the flu, went 0 for 5 from the floor and 1 of 4 from the free throw line to finish with one point in 15 minutes.

With Kizer and Tchatchouang not at their best, freshman forward Tianna Hawkins (Riverdale Baptist), who made just her eighth start of the season, scored a team-high 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds.

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