aryland's women's basketball team played its worst half of the season last Sunday in losing to Cheyney State. Tonight, in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament at Cumberland County Memorial Arena, the No. 3 seed played its second-worst opening half.

Maryland (23-4) trailed Virginia (15-13) by 18 points before rallying in the second half to beat the Cavaliers, 70-63. The Terrapins play second-seeded North Carolina Saturday at 8 p.m. in one semifinal.

The Tar Heels built a 15-point lead with Tresa Brown's 29 points and 12 rebounds and survived Lee Ann Woodhull's first-round record 32 points for Georgia Tech to win, 85-80.

Maryland Coach Chris Weller was upset with the officiating in her game. "We won a boxing match, not a basketball game," she said. "I picked up the technical (her second in 15 years) on purpose. It was one of the roughest games I've ever seen and the teams had nothing to do with it."

Maryland trailed, 35-17, with 4:05 remaining in the first half when the Terrapins awoke. Marsha Richardson and Lea Hakala scored the next 10 points to pull Maryland within 35-27 at intermission.

The Terrapins continued their comeback early in the second half, closing to 45-40 on Hakala's free throws with 12 minutes to play. Jasmina Perazic's layup off Debbie Lytle's feed cut the margin to 47-46 three minutes later and Lytle then scored after she stole the ball and Maryland had its first lead, 48-47, since 4-2.

Virginia Coach Debbie Ryan called time out and the Cavaliers stayed close for a while, but another two free throws by Hakala gave Maryland a 64-55 advantage with 1:30 remaining and ensured the victory.

"I was beginning to wonder when they got the 18-point lead," Weller said. "They took it right to us if we didn't get right over the ball."

Ryan said the officiating "wasn't atrocious; certainly not worth commenting on. It was probably the best game we played this year. We had intensity for 40 minutes, but a 30- point lead wouldn't be enough against Maryland. We got tired early in the second half and we couldn't seem to hang onto the momentum when they got within one."

In earlier games, Linda Page had 26 points for top seed North Carolina State's 104-66 victory over Wake Forest. The Wolfpack will play Clemson Saturday at 6 p.m. The Tigers needed all 50 points and 22 rebounds from Peggy Caple and Janet Knight to edge Duke, 93-92 in overtime.