CHARLOTTESVILLE, FEB. 27 -- It was supposed to be Chris Moreland's grand finale, the Duke senior's final regular season game. But Moreland and the Blue Devils found out, literally, that ninth-ranked Virginia wouldn't let her go.
"She couldn't even take a step in there," Duke Coach Debbie Leonard said after Virginia grabbed a 79-67 victory despite Moreland's 14-point, 12-rebound performance.
"Chris gets more contact that's not called than anyone in the country."
Virginia (23-3, 12-2) got 27 points from Daphne Hawkins to remain atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings while Duke dropped to 17-10, 5-9.
For most of her four-year career, Moreland, a former all-Met at Mount Vernon High School and three-time all-ACC performer, has been most of the Blue Devils' attack.
As far as one-woman shows go, Moreland had too much company today and her Duke teammates were unable to loosen Virginia's collapsing defense. That meant Moreland had to bull through two or three defenders each time she touched the ball in the low post.
As a junior last season, Moreland was named conference player of the year in a vote by the coaches after scoring 20.9 points and pulling down 10.5 rebounds per game. As a sophomore, the numbers were 23 points and 11.8 rebounds. "And the numbers don't even begin to tell the story," Leonard said. "Everything our team does rotates around Chris."
That wasn't supposed to be the case this season. Junior guard Katie Meier was supposed to give the Blue Devils an outside threat sufficient to take the pressure off Moreland. The duo keyed Duke's first-ever NCAA tournament appearance a year ago. "With the two of us, no one could stop us," Moreland said.
But Meier went down with a knee injury against Maryland Jan. 9, and after a brief comeback attempt, was lost for the season. "Katie created so much space for me," Moreland said. "Now teams can send three people down on me again. It's just a frustrating way to end up my career."
The Blue Devils are on the bubble for the NCAAs and will probably will need a win in the first round of the ACC tournament to get in. "I want to get there mostly for Chris," Leonard said. "No one in the country has meant more to a program."
Maryland 80, Wake Forest 64:
At Reynolds Gymnasium, the Terrapins (21-5, 12-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) placed five players in double figures to defeat the Demon Deacons (21-6, 9-5).
Howard 93, Morgan State 61:
Senior guard Roslyn Bell had a season high 21 points to lead the Bison (16-11, 10-4 MEAC) to a conference victory at home. Morgan State (3-21, 3-13) was led by guard Debbie Gray's 22 points. Center Darlene Beale had 17 rebounds for the Bison.
George Washington 91, Duquesne 45:
Senior forward Gloria Murphy led the Colonials (18-8, 12-5 in the Atlantic 10) with 20 points and nine rebounds at home over the Dukes (7-19, 3-14). The victory gave the Colonials a bye in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament, to be played at George Washington March 9.
George Mason 72, UMES 65:
Sophomore forward Veronica Holland scored 18 points on nine of 11 shooting to lead the Patriots (18-8) to a home victory. UMES (10-12) was led by Monica Felder's 30 points. Beverly McLaughlin had 15 and 17 rebounds for the Patriots.
Marymount 105, Shenandoah 63:
Debbie Clise scored a career-high 30 points to lead the Saints (22-3) over the Hornets (22-7) in the Chesapeake Women's Athletic Conference championship at Marymount.
Syracuse 76, Georgetown 56:
Sue Ludwig scored 19 points to lead the Orange as they clinched the regular season Big East championship in Syracuse.