CHARLOTTESVILLE, JAN. 26 -- The No. 1 women's basketball team in the country just keeps rolling on. Virginia's defense forced 19 first-half turnovers and the Cavaliers thrashed the St. John's Express, 90-51, today in a nonconference game for their seventh consecutive win.
Tonya Cardoza led the Cavaliers, who lost to Penn State earlier this month, with 23 points, 19 in the first half. Teammate Tammi Reiss added 19.
"I felt like we jumped on them early and I think they were just a little bit intimidated," Virginia Coach Debbie Ryan said. "The pressure defense was a major factor in the beginning of the game."
Cardoza had a hand in that, scoring 10 straight points as the Cavaliers (18-1) grabbed a 21-4 lead after eight minutes.
"Tonya Cardoza is the missing link to them winning the championship," St. John's Coach Joe Mullaney said.
Building a 54-31 first-half lead, the Cavaliers' play provided an exciting prelude to the Harlem Globetrotters' visit to University Hall later in the night. Point guard Dawn Staley ran the offense with behind-the-back and through-the-leg passes to teammates for easy transition baskets.
"When I do those passes, I'm not trying to be flashy," Staley said. "I get too far into the defense and have to throw it behind my back."
Staley had a game-high 10 assists and scored six points.
"A lot of people expect her to score a lot of points to have a good game," Ryan said. "And a lot of games this year Dawn just wants to see other people do well. You saw her pass up a lot of shots that she could have taken."
But the Cavaliers didn't need much scoring from Staley. Virginia was simply too big inside and had too much good shooting from the outside for St. John's (12-7) to handle.
"We didn't handle their press early," said Mullaney, whose team finished with 29 turnovers. "Our team is a much better team than this. Our league is a much better league than this. . . . I'm disappointed."
Georgetown 53, Syracuse 51: Kris Witfill's team-high 21 points helped rally the Hoyas to the Big East win in Syracuse. Leni Wilson added 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Georgetown (8-8, 3-5).
Syracuse (3-15, 0-8) was led by Holly Oslander's 21 points and 12 rebounds.
James Madison 48, George Mason 42: In Harrisonburg, the Dukes won their 13th straight. James Madison is in first place in the Colonial Athletic Association at 5-0, 15-2 overall. Madison's Paula Schuler of Robinson High scored her 1,000th point en route to a game-high 18. Marcell Harrison scored 12 points for the Patriots (11-7, 4-2), who had their six-game winning streak stopped.
Coppin State 72, Howard 57: Coppin State (11-3, 4-2 Mid-Eastern Athletic Association) converted 16 of its last 17 free throws to pull away from a two-point halftime lead at Burr Gymnasium.
Regina Nolan had 18 points and eight assists to lead Coppin, which made 27 of 33 free throws. Howard (6-9, 3-3) was led by senior guard Felicia Oliver (16 points).
Mary Washington 61, York 57: Robin Peck scored 27 points and Susan Myers 16 as the Eagles (9-7, 3-1) won the Capital Athletic Conference game in York, Pa.
Marymount 96, Notre Dame (Md.) 75: In Baltimore, Colleen DiClemente scored 20 points and Annalena Giarrusso 17 to lead Marymount (14-4) to its eighth straight victory. Notre Dame is 4-10.
Gallaudet 87, Mary Baldwin 49: Connie Franks had 25 points and 21 rebounds as Gallaudet (8-8) coasted in Staunton, Va. Mary Baldwin fell to 2-9.
Prince George's 56, Montgomery-Rockville 51: In Rockville, the Owls (13-3) won as sophomore guard Laronda Lee scored a game-high 21 points. Freshman guard Marcia Segura (16 points) led the Knights (2-13).