COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Playing without its leading scorer and lacking the intensity required to win an Atlantic Coast Conference game, No. 8 Maryland virtually invited lowly Virginia Tech to pull off an upset.
The Hokies were only too happy to comply.
Monet Tellier matched her career high with 31 points, and Virginia Tech forced 20 turnovers in a stunning 75-69 upset Thursday night.
"Obviously, an extremely difficult loss," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "Not a lot of things I can say that we did well. Defense, rebounding, turnovers."
Virginia Tech (7-14, 3-5) came in mired in a five-game losing streak during which it failed to break the 50-point barrier. The Hokies had dropped six in a row to Maryland since 2005 and were coming off a 31-point loss at Miami.
Yet, Virginia Tech clearly played with more emotion that the Terrapins (18-3, 5-3).
"I thought they came in with more energy, were more inspired," Frese said. "When you don't have a sense of urgency for 40 minutes to come out and play — every team we play in the ACC is going to come in and play like this."
Tellier said: "From the beginning, I thought we all came out with so much confidence and so much fight. We weren't going to let this one slip away."
Maryland was without leading scorer Alyssa Thomas, who sprained her left thumb in practice and watched from the sideline with a cast on her hand. Thomas, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, is averaging 17.2 points.
She was desperately missed.
Lynetta Kizer scored 21 points, Laurin Mincy had 19 and Tianna Hawkins added 18, but the rest of the Terrapins totaled only 11 points in the team's second straight defeat and first at home this season.
Asked if the absence of Thomas made a difference, Frese replied, "No question. We used rotations you haven't seen all season."
Maryland maintained a slight lead throughout the second half until a driving layup by Tellier put the Hokies up 62-61 with 5:25 left. Porschia Hadley and Tellier followed with baskets to make it 66-61, and after Kizer made a free throw, Hawkins fouled out with 2:29 to go.
Still, Maryland got to 66-63 before Aerial Wilson made a layup for the Hokies with 1:17 left. The Terrapins followed with several missed shots and a few more turnovers in stumbling to the finish.
Maryland missed six free throws in the final nine minutes.
"It was critical," Frese said. "We didn't play with a lot of self-confidence at the line."
Earlier, Maryland appeared to take control when a three-point play by Kizer made it 45-37. But Tellier drilled two straight 3-pointers to spark a 9-2 run that got the Hokies to 47-46 with 13:44 left.
It was 55-52 when Hawkins picked up her fourth foul with 10:08 remaining. With or without her, the Terrapins struggled on both ends of the court.
"I'm extremely disappointed for our seniors in terms of how we played tonight," Frese said. "I told them we'll decide from here which way we want to go."
Maryland led 34-31 at halftime despite limiting Virginia Tech to 9-for-29 shooting. The Terrapins couldn't pull away because they committed 12 turnovers, including three apiece by backcourt mates Anjale Barrett and Kim Rodgers.
Soon after Maryland scored seven straight points to go up 11-7, the Hokies answered with an identical run to take an 18-15 lead. Hawkins then made two layups in another 7-0 spurt by the Terrapins that made it 22-18.
Virginia Tech pulled even at 26 before a 3-pointer by Mincy put Maryland ahead. The lead stood until Tellier's basket made it 62-61.