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Cavs prepare for bout with Terps

Virginia runs into red-hot Maryland squad in vital home conference contest

The Virginia women's basketball team seeks to right the ship and win its first conference game in four tries when the team hosts No. 15 Maryland tonight.

Prior to the Cavaliers' 54-45 win against non-conference opponent Pennsylvania last Sunday, Virginia (11-8, 0-3 ACC) had dropped three straight games, all of which were conference games. During that losing stretch, the Cavaliers struggled to achieve a level of consistency and composure in their play.

Junior forward Chelsea Shine - the Cavaliers' leading scorer with 10.8 points in 24.3 minutes per game - played an average of just 10.7 minutes during the three-game period, while Shine's team averaged 16.7 turnovers per contest.

"There are times where we've lost focus, and we need to improve to the point where we don't do that," redshirt senior guard Paulisha Kellum said. "Against Penn, we let them get back into the game [in the second half] because we had a letdown. Against great teams, that's not an option."

Associate head coach Tim Taylor stressed the need for a consistent inside-out game. Taylor noted that his team - which is shooting only 40.5 percent from the field and 19.4 percent from three-point range in conference play - can generate higher-percentage shots if its post players consistently execute on offense.

"We want to involve our shooters like [freshman guard] Kelsey Wolfe and [sophomore guard] Lexie Gerson," Taylor said. "That means we have to execute our offense sets to create high-percentage shooting opportunities for them and do that by having our inside players command attention."

Freshman forward Alyssa Thomas leads the Terrapins in scoring, averaging 13.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Junior center Lynetta Kizer has performed well on the boards, as well, averaging 7.4 rebounds and contributing 13.2 points.

"We're going to need to rebound very well against Maryland," Taylor said. "They are a big team outside of their smaller point guard and they crash the boards. We're going to need to rebound well to prevent second-chances and fast breaks, which is one of our strengths. If we don't rebound, we don't have that opportunity."

Game time for the conference matchup is set for 8:30 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.