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Maryland matchup comes down to final seconds; team prepares for bout with BC

November 22; Charlottesville, VA USA; Virginia guard Monica Wright. No. 12 Virginia fell to No. 6 Tennessee 77-63.
November 22; Charlottesville, VA USA; Virginia guard Monica Wright. No. 12 Virginia fell to No. 6 Tennessee 77-63.

The No. 22 Virginia women's basketball team alternated between high moments and low moments during the winter recess - for every scrappy win, there was a crushing loss.

The high point of Winter Break for the Cavaliers came Jan. 11 against Maryland, when senior guard Monica Wright broke one of the program's most storied records, surpassing Dawn Staley's long-standing career scoring record of 2,135 points.

"To have her have this [scoring] record is tremendous," coach Debbie Ryan said. "It is an awesome honor to how hard she has worked to put our program where it is today."

Wright failed, though, to keep the magic alive throughout the entire night and struggled to get off a potentially game-winning shot during the closing seconds against the Terrapins. Maryland prevailed 61-60 and hurried off the court as crowds booed referees for not calling a foul against Terrapin defenders.

"As soon as I got the ball, I turned, and there were three people around me," Wright said. "My first thought was to try and go [toward the basket]. Then I realized there was another person coming toward me. Who can I dump it off to at the last minute? There weren't that many options with three seconds left. I tried to go up and draw the foul."

Despite the disappointing loss, much of the attention from players and coaches after the game focused on Wright's monumental career accomplishment.

"Obviously we didn't want to see her break [the record] against us," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "At the same point, it's also special to see her break it because of the player that she is. She is a world-class athlete in terms of her ability to score. I think the thing that separates Monica from a lot of players out there is her competitiveness, just her will to win. She's a tremendous competitor."

The loss was one of three during the break. The Cavaliers also fell 69-53 to No. 12 Georgia Dec. 20 and 68-50 to No. 11 Florida State Jan. 7. Virginia still managed to pull out five wins during Winter Break, however: 69-60 against Samford Dec. 28, 63-54 against Liberty Dec. 29, 74-59 against Colorado Jan. 2, 72-64 against St. Bonaventure Jan. 4 and a 70-56 win against rival Virginia Tech Jan. 18.

Since the end of last semester, Virginia has hovered around No. 20 in the national rankings, falling as low as No. 24 after the loss to Maryland before bouncing back to No. 22 after the Virginia Tech win.

The Cavaliers (12-5, 1-2 ACC) will be tested in earnest during the coming weeks, as the onslaught of difficult ACC matchups nears. Virginia takes on Boston College (11-7, 2-1 ACC) 7 p.m. in Chestnut Hill, Mass. and Georgia Tech (15-4, 2-2 ACC), which received votes in the most recent ranking polls, at home 1 p.m. Sunday.

Though Virginia has yet to find consistent success this season, it has one of the nation's most respected players in Wright, who has already been selected as ACC Player of the Week twice this season.

"Monica is a special player to me and to this program," Ryan said. "She has given her heart, her soul and her body. She has given us everything that she has every single minute, whether we are on or off the court. She gives and gives and gives"


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