Before last night's Atlantic Coast Conference opener against No. 9 North Carolina at Cole Field House, Maryland thought it had a chance to be a factor in the league this season. Last night's game, although a loss, didn't change the Terrapins' minds about their ability to keep pace in the conference.

The visiting Tar Heels ended up defeating Maryland, 92-79, led by junior forward LaQuanda Barksdale's 22 points and junior guard Nikki Teasley (St. John's/Prospect Hall), who added 18 points and nine assists.

Still, Maryland played even with North Carolina (4-1, 1-0) for long periods of time. The Terrapins overcame a 7-0 deficit to start the game, then rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to tie the game at 61, with nine minutes remaining.

In fact, the Terrapins might have stayed closer had their leading scorer, sophomore forward Deedee Warley, not picked up her fourth foul with just under seven minutes left and North Carolina's lead only four, 67-63.

The loss dropped Maryland to 4-2, 0-1, but already the Terrapins are showing signs that they will be better than last year, when they had their worst season in the program's history by going 6-21, 3-13.

"This is about where we left off last year, playing close to top 15 teams," Maryland Coach Chris Weller said. "But this is December, it isn't February. This is positive."

North Carolina came out strong in the second half and took a 54-40 lead with 17 minutes remaining. But the Terrapins, drawing fouls by passing the ball into Warley, slowly came back and finally tied the game on two Warley free throws at the 9:49 mark.

The Tar Heels then went on a 6-2 run, and Warley had to exit with her fourth foul. By the time she returned with 2:10 left North Carolina had extended its lead to 10. Warley ended the game with 26 points and nine rebounds.

"They're all around a lot better," North Carolina Coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "I think they're going to give teams in our conference fits. They did to us tonight."

* VIRGINIA TECH 66, JAMES MADISON 50: Tere Williams scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds as the No. 25 Hokies led from start to finish in Harrisonburg, Va.

Sarah Hicks hit a three-pointer for the Hokies (4-2) nearly three minutes into the game to open the scoring, and Virginia Tech never looked back. The Hokies outrebounded the Dukes 46-27.

James Madison (2-3) was led by Mandy White with 15 points, the only player in double figures for the Dukes. James Madison made only 33 percent of its field goals.

* VIRGINIA 71, WILLIAM & MARY 42: In Williamsburg, the Cavaliers got a game-high 27 points from Erin Stovall to trounce the Tribe. The Cavaliers (3-2) broke open a 10-point game with an 18-0 run in the second half.

Mary Ranone led William & Mary (2-3) with 11 points.

Men's Games

Sitapha Savane had 24 points to lead Navy to a 67-57 victory over Northeastern in Boston.

Savane added nine rebounds to pace Navy (3-3), which won its third in a row. Northeastern (0-4), playing its home opener, was led by Marcus Blossom with 22 points.

The victory was the 450th career win for Navy coach Don DeVoe, who is in his 27th season of college coaching.

The Midshipmen scored the first seven points of the second half to take a 19-point lead, their largest of the night, at 45-26 with 16:55 to go.

Northeastern pulled to 55-47 with 3:01 left, but the Midshipmen made 9 of 12 free throws in the final two minutes to secure the win.

* E. TENNESSEE ST. 68, VIRGINIA TECH 53: Adrian Meeks and D.J. McDuffie each scored 16 points to lead East Tennessee State past the Hokies in Johnson City, Tenn.

The Bucs (2-3) never trailed the Gobblers (2-1) after going up 6-5 on a three-point jumper by Demico Childress.

ETSU expanded its lead to 30-13 with 4:36 left in the half on a basket by Deon Daniel and led 34-24 at the half.

Tech pulled to 49-42 on a basket by Rolan Roberts, but Leo Murray countered for ETSU with two baskets and a pair of free throws to extend the Bucs' lead to 55-42 with 5:57 remaining.

Andre Ray led Virginia Tech with 16 points, and Roberts finished with 10.

Today's Schedule

men

Howard at Michigan State in Spartan Classic, 6

Others: Montgomery-Rockville vs. Delaware T&C at Gloucester (N.J.) tournament, 6; Gallaudet at Villa Julie in Villa Julie tournament, 8

women

American vs. Gonzaga at New Mexico tournament, 7

Others: Montgomery-Rockville at Essex, 4; Gallaudet at Mary Washington, 6