It is not exactly stunning that the 20th-ranked Maryland women's basketball team defeated No. 12 Georgia last night. However, when they looked up at the Cole Field House scoreboard after the final buzzer, even the Terrapins were surprised.

It read: Maryland 66, Georgia 48.

It was the first time in 174 games that the Bulldogs had been held to fewer than 50 points in a game, going back to March 1982, when they scored 44 points in a loss to Tennessee. Before that, Georgia had not been held to fewer than 50 points in 97 straight games, going back to 1978-79.

"We came into the game feeling confident," Maryland junior forward Vicky Bullett said, "but, no, we didn't think it would turn out like that. Georgia's a real good team."

And for that reason, said senior guard Lisa Brown, "other than winning the {Atlantic Coast Conference} tournament two years ago, this is the biggest win of my whole career."

The Terrapins, who yesterday broke into the top 20 for the first time since early last season, now have a 6-0 record and are off to their best start since 1982-83, when they won their first 16 games.

Last night, Maryland never trailed. The Terrapins led, 24-22, with 3:41 remaining in the first half and by 36-26 at halftime.

Georgia (4-3) cut the margin to four early in the second half and had closed to 44-39 with 12:32 remaining in the game. But then Maryland scored 11 of the game's next 13 points, the final basket coming on a fast-break layup by Bullett (12 points, 12 rebounds, 6 steals) off an outlet from Lisa Brown and a final touch pass from Deanna Tate.

"That put us in control," said Brown, who scored a game-high 19 points. "That got us real excited."

After Adrienne Shuler (14 points) made the score 55-43 with a short jumper, Maryland put on one last burst. Tate punctuated a 7-1 run with a three-point goal with 3:55 to play that put the Terrapins ahead by 62-44.

For the game, Maryland outrebounded Georgia, 42-31 (18-10 on the offensive boards), and forced 23 turnovers, including 13 steals. The Terrapins allowed the Bulldogs to shoot just 40.4 percent from the field.

Maryland faces a significant test in its next games, which will be played Dec. 28-30 as part of the Miami Super 8 tournament. Its first game will be against No. 10 Rutgers. If the Terrapins win, their next opponent may be No. 1 Texas.

East Carolina 56, Howard 55:

East Carolina (3-4) held off a Howard comeback to preserve a victory at East Carolina. Howard, which came back from a 14-point halftime deficit, had an opportunity to win, but Yolanda Lockamy was called for charging as she drove the lane with five seconds remaining. Darlene Beale had 23 rebounds for the Bison (5-5).