BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech coach Dennis Wolff sees the signs of progress in his second year on the job, but also will get several reminders of how far the Hokies still have to come now that ACC play is underway.
He and the Hokies got one of those Sunday in a 74-45 loss to No. 10 Maryland."When you are running uphill against a team that talented, it's hard," Wolff said.Reigning ACC player of the year Alyssa Thomas had 26 points, 18 rebounds, six assists and three blocks for Maryland (13-3, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won for the ninth time in 10 games.The Hokies, meanwhile, have five new players -- four freshmen and junior college transfer Uju Ugoka -- as Wolff tries to rebuild a program that had sagged badly before he was hired to bring it back.Ugoka scored 12 points and Monet Tellier 11 for Virginia Tech (7-9, 1-4), which shot just 29.7 percent (19-68) and lost its fourth straight."We have so many new kids that every game is important to them and every game is kind of a new experience," Wolff said, noting later that he's still looking for some pretty important pieces."We are what we are on offense," he said. "We really don't have a point guard and we don't have anyone that can take you off the dribble."The Hokies disrupted Maryland, forcing 22 turnovers, but the Terps went ahead by double figures on three free throws by Katie Rutan 8:23 before halftime and the Hokies never got within single digits again.Thomas and the Terps were focused from the start, with Thomas scoring the game's first six points. Maryland also blocked several shots in the early going, and that surely contributed greatly to Virginia Tech's shooting woes. The Hokies went five minutes before scoring on Porschia Hadley's putback.Leading just 15-9 after 12 minutes, Maryland used a 13-3 run to open its lead to 28-12. Tierney Pfirman started it with a 3-pointer, Rutan hit three free throws and Tianna Hawkins finished it with a jumper. Hawkins scored 14 for Maryland, and Rutan and Pfirman each had 11.The Terps' lead was 37-22 at halftime, and after Virginia Tech closed to within 43-31 with 15 minutes to go, Malina Howard hit a jumper from the free throw line, Pfirman had a three-point play and Howard followed a Hokies turnover with a 3-pointer, pushing the lead back to 51-31, and all suspense was gone.The Hokies, who won 75-69 at then-No. 8 Maryland last season, forced 22 turnovers, but turned them into just 12 points, and had 18 offensive rebounds, but just six second-chance points.