In what should be one of the best area women's college basketball games of the season, sixth-ranked Virginia visits 12th-ranked Maryland at 7:30 tonight at Cole Field House.
The Cavaliers have won 10 straight games and are 17-1, 6-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Maryland is 14-4 and 6-1 after last week's victory over Wake Forest, the No. 3 team in the conference.
"They are a great team all around," said Virginia Coach Debbie Ryan. "You can't focus on one player. . . . I think we are a lot like Maryland because we have speed and quickness in the back court and have some players who can score from inside."
In the first meeting between the teams on Jan. 12, the Cavaliers played a near-perfect game and won, 84-66, in Charlottesville. Virginia's only loss this season was a 16-point decision to top-ranked Iowa, Dec. 29.
"The first time we played Maryland, I think we just played extremely well. That's all I can say," Ryan said. "We shot well and we just got on a roll."
According to Terrapins Coach Chris Weller, the Cavaliers' strength is "not only that they are very talented, but they have a lot of experience. They have played together for at least two years and they know each other well."
Virginia is sparked by senior guard Donna Holt, who averages 12.4 points per game and 4.66 steals, which ranks her in the top three nationally. She averages 4.6 assists.
Holt's backcourt mate is senior Daphne Hawkins from Beltsville and High Point High School. The 5-foot-6 guard leads the team with 18.3 points per game and connects on 82.5 percent of her free throws.
Sophomore Tonya Cardoza (11.2 points) and junior Dana Bryant (8.8 rebounds per game) are Ryan's most talented front court players.
The Cavaliers only shoot 43 percent from the floor in all games, but 48 percent against ACC opponents. Kathy McConnell is the first guard off the bench; 21 of her 36 baskets this season are from three-point range.
The Terrapins are paced by 6-foot-3 forward Vicky Bullett (18.6 points, 9.8 rebounds), guard Lisa Brown (17.2 points, 5 assists), and center Christie Winters (12.3 points, 4.6 rebounds).
"They played very well and we didn't," Weller said of the loss to Virginia three weeks ago. "I think we're playing well now but there are some little things we can improve on."