GREENSBORO, N.C. — The sixth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team wasted no time avoiding a rash of upsets in Friday’s ACC tournament quarterfinals, parlaying balanced scoring, supremacy inside and deft three-point shooting into a 70-58 victory over Virginia at Greensboro Coliseum.
The win was third-seeded Maryland’s fifth in a row overall and third straight this season against the Cavaliers. The Terrapins (26-4) also won for the eighth time in nine games and beat sixth-seeded Virginia for the fourth time in five meetings to advance to Saturday’s semifinals against Wake Forest, which upset No. 2 seed Miami, 81-74, in another quarterfinal.
After watching top-seeded Duke also lose in the quarterfinals earlier in the day, Maryland left little to chance down the stretch with a performance that featured points from nine players, a 48-23 rebounding advantage, 7-of-10 shooting on three-pointers and suffocating defense that limited Virginia to 35 percent from the field.
“It absolutely was great to be able to come out and set the tone early,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said. “You never know how a team is going to react the first time on the floor. Sometimes you’ve got to get out those jitters. I thought for us our big difference was our depth.”
Two days after becoming the second sophomore in ACC history to be named player of the year, Terrapins forward Alyssa Thomas scored a team-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. Freshman point guard Brene Moseley scored 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting and made 3 of 4 from three-point range.
Moseley’s final three-pointer gave Maryland a 51-30 lead in the second half, and it grew to 55-32 courtesy of four straight points from Thomas, who finished the regular season as the leading scorer in the ACC. During one stretch early in the second half, Thomas scored 10 of Maryland’s 15 points before resting on the bench with Maryland firmly in control.
“It didn’t feel any different to me,” Thomas said about her first game as player of the year. “I mean, I’m still the same player I was before I got the award.”
In the first ACC tournament game between the schools since 1995, the closest the Cavaliers got in the closing minutes wound up being the final margin, but that came mostly with Maryland reserves on the court. So thorough was the triumph that Maryland’s 24 turnovers, its most in a game this season, barely registered as it reached the ACC semifinals for the seventh time in Frese’s 10 seasons.
Senior guard Arian Moorer (Hylton High School) led Virginia with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists, and junior guard Lexi Gershon chipped in 16 points, four rebounds and three steals. The Cavaliers (22-10) had a four-game winning streak snapped that began following the last time it lost to Maryland, on Feb. 16.
The Terrapins used a similar blueprint to that previous triumph. In that game, Maryland used multiple runs in the first half to gain separation during a 73-56 win, and on Friday, the Terrapins used bursts of 14-0 and 11-0 several minutes apart for a margin that swelled to 38-18 seconds before halftime.
“In tournament time nothing is guaranteed,” Frese said. “You have to go out and earn it. I thought we did that with our defense and our rebounding. I thought we made really easy plays in terms being unselfish and sharing the basketball. We’re thrilled to be able to have everyone play. A fun game for us to prepare us for the matchup tomorrow.”