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Dec. 6, 2012

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Tianna Hawkins had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Alyssa Thomas contributed 20 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 9 Maryland opened defense of its Atlantic Coast Conference title with a 79-55 victory over Virginia Thursday night at Comcast Center.

Coming off a gritty loss to No. 2 Connecticut, the Terrapins (5-2, 1-0) led by 16 at halftime and quickly expanded the margin to 25 points before coasting to the finish. Freshman Tierney Pfirman added 17 points in her second career start. Maryland limited the Cavaliers to 25 percent shooting and finished with a 50-39 rebounding advantage.

"We had good defensive play tonight," head coach Brenda Frese said. "We are trying to show what our identity is going to be and we are starting to consistently showing up now defensively. You can see the effort and anticipation in our players."

The Terrapins have won 13 of the last 16 games between the teams, including all three meetings last season. It was Maryland's most lopsided win in the series since a 27-point blowout in January 2007.

Ataira Franklin led Virginia (5-3, 0-1) with 15 points. The Cavaliers went 29 for 37 at the foul line but made only 12 baskets.

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.

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.

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.

Alicia DeVaughn added 10 boards and eight points, while freshman guard Chloe Pavlech dished six assists to just two turnovers.

Thomas was voted ACC Player of the Week the league announced Monday. This marks the 12th weekly honor for Thomas, who was named Rookie of the Week a record seven times in 2010-2011 and was named Player of the Week four times last season.

Next, the Terps will welcome George Mason (4-3) to Comcast Center for a 6 p.m. game Saturday. The Terps-Patriots game will be shown live online for a fee on TerpsTV Premium. For tickets, log on to UMTerps.com.

At halftime of Saturday's game, the Terrapins will host a Teddy Bear Toss. All fans are asked to bring teddy bears or soft toys to toss onto the court at halftime and they will be collected and given to the Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

-Terps-

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