Thursday, January 26, 2012

Virginia Tech stuns No. 7 Maryland in College Park

Virginia Tech 75, No. 7 Maryland 69

So we're monitoring this game, regularly checking the scores, and early in the second half, we're like, "Hey, look, Virginia Tech's only down 6 at Maryland. Nice to see them putting up a good fight."

Then it was, "Hey, the Hokies are only down one. Even if they don't hang on, you have to give 'em credit for...

"What's that? Tech's leading?

"Tech won? Get out of here!"

This is why we love sports, right? Because for all we think we know, once the two teams step on the court, you just never know.

Monet Tellier scored a career high-tying 31 points, Aerial Wilson added 15 and Porschia Hadley stepped up with 14 as the Hokies stunned the heavily favored Terrapins in College Park. How stunning was it? Consider:

- Maryland (18-3, 5-3 ACC) came in with an 11-0 record at home and had won six straight over the Hokies;

- The Hokies (7-14, 3-5) came in averaging just over 49 points a game and hadn't scored more than 48 in their last six games;

- Tech came in on a five-game losing streak, with each loss by at least 13 points.

None of that mattered Thursday, though. With Tellier scoring 15 first-half points and the Hokies getting 14 points off 12 Maryland turnovers, Tech made a game of it early and went into the half down by just three at 34-31. The Terrapins bumped their advantage up to eight by the first media timeout, but three straight 3-pointers - two from Tellier, one from Wilson - kept Tech within range. Maryland continued to nurse a 1-3 point lead, though, until the 5:26 mark when a Tellier jumper lifted the surprising Hokies to a 62-61 lead. Tech would never trail again, as they made clutch baskets down the stretch and just enough free throws in the final minute to cement one of the biggest upsets in Division I this season.

 Forcing turnovers were a huge asset for the Hokies, who scored 26 points off 20 Maryland turnovers. Tech also held its own on the boards with the one of the nation's best rebounding teams. Maryland came in with a plus-15 rebounding margin, but managed just a 36-35 advantage on the glass against the Hokies.

The Terrapins played without star Alyssa Thomas (17.2 ppg), who sprained her thumb in practice this week.  Still, you had to figure Maryland would still have enough weapons to prevail at home against the Hokies. So take nothing away from Tech; with or without Thomas, Maryland remains a handful.

The victory was Tech's first over a Top-10 team since Jan. 14, 2010, when the Hokies overpowered No. 10 North Carolina 79-64.

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