COLLEGE PARK, Md. — So here we are, eight games into the college basketball season, and Virginia coach Joanne Boyle still can't get a read on her team.
The Cavaliers played tentatively and without conviction in a 79-55 loss to No. 9 Maryland on Thursday night, and afterward Boyle seemingly couldn't believe what she had witnessed.
Virginia (5-3, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) made only 12 baskets, shot 25 percent, was outrebounded 50-29 and committed 22 turnovers.
"We had balls ripped out of our hands. There was no toughness to us tonight, which is just disappointing," Boyle said. "We're going to be challenged, because we really have got to figure out our identity and who we want to be this year. For a game-and-a-half now, I feel like we've been back on our heels."
The back slide began in the second half of a 54-47 loss West Virginia on Sunday. Fortunately, the Cavaliers don't play again until Dec. 18, so they've got time to get things fixed.
"It's a great opportunity for us really to go to work and have 10 days of practice to really get after it and figure out who we are," Boyle said. "We need to have some tough practices. We have to challenge ourselves now."
Virginia forward Jazmin Pitts, who scored 11 points, said, "We have 10 days to see if we really want to do this or not, because it's going to be a battle come ACC-time in January."
Tianna Hawkins had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Alyssa Thomas contributed 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (5-2, 1-0).
Coming off a 15-point loss to No. 2 Connecticut, the Terrapins led by 16 at halftime and quickly expanded the margin to 25 points before coasting to the finish.
"A lot of credit goes to Maryland. I think they're just a great team," Boyle said. "They dominated the entire game. We've got a lot of work to do, obviously."
Maryland has won 13 of the last 16 games between the teams, including all three meetings last season. It was the Terps' most lopsided win in the series since a 27-point blowout in January 2007.
Ataira Franklin led Virginia with 15 points. The Cavaliers went 29 for 37 at the foul line but were horrible in virtually every other aspect of the game.
Thomas – the 2011-2012 ACC player of the year – went 5 for 11 from the floor, made 10 of 11 free throws and had five assists. She scored only six points against UConn on 2-for-12 shooting.
"Tonight was just more about focusing on Maryland," Thomas said.
With Thomas leading the way, Maryland opened the second half with a 16-4 run to go up 51-23. Thomas fueled the surge with a three-point play, a layup and a jumper.
Virginia answered with a 16-2 burst to close to 53-39, but the cold-shooting Cavaliers were unable to sustain the comeback bid even though the short-handed Terrapins had three players saddled with four fouls over the final eight minutes. Because of injuries, Maryland's current roster consists of eight players.
The Terrapins built a 29-15 rebounding advantage and restricted the Cavaliers to 5-for-26 shooting in taking a 35-19 halftime lead.
Virginia opened the game by going 1 for 14 from the floor, its only field goal in the opening 12 minutes a baseline jumper by Franklin at the 16:13 mark.
Maryland took the game's first nine shots from the field, including four on its first possession, and built a 22-10 lead before Franklin scored in the lane. At that point, the Cavaliers had two baskets and eight points at the free throw line.
After Franklin's basket, Thomas made two free throws and Malina Howard followed with a layup to spark an 11-2 run that put the Terrapins up 33-14.