Cavs host formidable No. 6 Terps
Encouraged after FSU win, Boyle hopes squad can neutralize Maryland size
After blasting No. 17 Florida State 85-68 Sunday, the Virginia women’s basketball team hosts No. 6 Maryland Thursday night looking for an upset. The game will be Virginia’s fourth in a row against a ranked opponent.
The Terrapins (16-1, 4-0 ACC) are on a 14-game win streak, with a 1-1 record against ranked opponents — No. 1 Connecticut served Maryland its only loss Nov. 15. Though the Cavaliers (9-9, 2-3 ACC) were 0-2 against Maryland last year, they have competed well this season against tough teams such as No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 11 Tennessee and Florida State.
To defeat Maryland, Virginia must find a way to shut down a Terrapin offense that nationally ranks seventh in scoring and is very similar to that of No. 3 Duke, who clobbered the Cavaliers 90-55 Thursday. Coach Joanne Boyle hopes the loss to the Blue Devils proves valuable in Virginia’s preparation for the Terrapins.
“As a coaching staff we’re going to learn from the Duke game,” Boyle said. “[Maryland is] big in the paint, so they’re similar to Duke in terms of size inside.”
The Terrapins boast senior forward Alyssa Thomas, a Preseason AP All-American and ACC Player of the Year. In 16 games, Thomas has 14 double-doubles and two triple-doubles. Thomas’ averages of 17.8 points and 11.2 rebounds per game place her seventh and second in the ACC, respectively.
“They’re big,” Boyle said. “They’ve got a lot of All-Americans. [But] you’re always going to be in a game if you give your best effort.”
Although she typically plays off the bench, sophomore guard Faith Randolph has played an important role in the Cavaliers’ success, leading the team in scoring with an average 12.9 points per game.
“That sixth man is your most important player on the team,” redshirt senior guard Lexie Gerson said. “Faith has been doing an unbelievable job coming off the bench and being that spark.”
For a team shooting an ACC-worst 38.2 percent from the field, Randolph provides a vital offensive spark as a reserve.
“When I go in, I just try to feel the flow,” Randolph said. “It’s sometimes hard coming off the bench because you don’t know how the game is going when you’re actually in it. I just try to be patient when I’m on offense, and when I see looks, I just take it.”
This game marks the last regular-season meeting between Virginia and Maryland before the Terrapins move to the Big Ten next season. Although the long-standing ACC rivalry will come to an end, the Cavaliers claim they are not approaching this matchup any differently than they otherwise would.
“It’s pretty much [an] ACC opponent,” Boyle said. “One time at them, and we’ll take our best shot.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.