It's same old story for Terps, as Seminoles withstand rally McLinton's 32 not enough, 87-84

February 14, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- This could have been a story about stirring second-half comeback by the Maryland basketball team. This could have been a story about a phenomenal second-half performance by senior guard Kevin McLinton.

Instead, it's a story about No. 10 Florida State continuing its run as the Atlantic Coast Conference's hottest team. It's a story about sophomore guard Bobby Sura, one of the streakiest players in the country.

McLinton's heroics ended just in time for the Seminoles. After scoring 21 points in the last eight minutes and leading the Terps back from a 15-point deficit to take the lead with less than two minutes left, McLinton's 40-footer missed with one second remaining, leaving Maryland with a heartbreaking 87-84 defeat.

Yesterday's loss, before an announced sellout of 14,500 at Cole Field House, was the sixth straight and 10th in the past 12 games for Maryland (10-11, 1-10). It was the sixth straight victory and 11th in the past 12 games for Florida State (19-6, 9-2), giving the Seminoles sole possession of first place in the ACC.

"This was a game we definitely could have won," said McLinton, who scored 25 of his career-high 32 points in the second half. "You don't get any rewards for coming close in the ACC. You get rewarded for winning games. We didn't find a way to win this one."

Florida State did. After trailing by as many as 11 in the first half, coming back from a 41-35 halftime deficit to lead twice by 15, the Seminoles fell behind 80-79 on two free throws by McLinton with 1:54 remaining. Starting with a free throw by Douglas Edwards that tied the game at 80, Florida State made six of 11 free throws down the stretch.

"On the road, you know a team is going to make a run at you," said Sura, who scored 18 of his game-high 34 points in the first nine minutes of the second half on a dazzling display of long-range jumpers and playground drives. "We did just enough to hold them off at the end."

Barely enough. Florida State's poor foul shooting allowed the Terps to have a chance. McLinton pulled Maryland to 85-84 with two foul shots with 31.9 seconds left, and after a free throw by Edwards gave the Seminoles a two-point lead with 25.2 seconds to go, freshman guard Johnny Rhodes threw up a three-point air ball from the corner.

Edwards, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds, retrieved Rhodes' shot and was fouled with 6.2 seconds left. The senior forward missed the first and made the second. After taking the inbounds pass, McLinton was double-teamed in the corner by Sam Cassell and 6-foot-9 Rodney Dobard.

"When I got the ball, I got jumped," said McLinton, who had trouble getting started and lost a few precious seconds. "By the time I got the ball at half-court, I couldn't see up the court. The play is designed for me to take it all the way and pass it out for a three, but I didn't have time to do that."

Asked why his team didn't use its last timeout to set up a play, Maryland coach Gary Williams said, "We run that play at the end of practice every day. We didn't call timeout because we didn't want them to set up their defense. The idea is to beat the defense down the floor."

Maryland's comeback from deficits of 68-53 with 10:10 remaining and 70-55 with 8:53 left was remarkable on another account, considering that the Terps played the stretch run without forward Evers Burns. The 6-8 senior from Woodlawn, who finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, picked up three quick fouls in the second half and fouled out with 3:52 remaining.

As he walked off the court, Burns grabbed McLinton.

"I told him, 'This is your game, take over,' " Burns said later.

McLinton nearly did. But as happened last week against Virginia, when his foul-line jumper was blocked with 15 seconds to go and then he missed another desperation heave at the buzzer, McLinton could carry Maryland only so far.

"I just wanted to put as much pressure on him as possible," said Cassell, who made up for a poor offensive showing (nine points on 4-for-10 shooting and six turnovers) with a number of terrific defensive plays. "I didn't want them to get it up easy. I wanted to make it hard. I guess I made it hard enough."

Yesterday's defeat was the most agonizing for Maryland during its losing streak. It was certainly more difficult for Williams, whose team dropped under .500 for the first time this season and is last in the ACC.

After maintaining his composure for much of the last month, Williams left the court muttering the same four-letter word nearly under his breath. After a fan seated a few feet from the tunnel made a derogatory remark about his team's play, Williams turned around and yelled a few more expletives at the fan, then went to the locker room.

The frustration was evident to his players.

"Coach Williams was thoroughly disgusted," said McLinton.

Not in the performance, just in the result.

"I was pleased with our effort," Williams said. "We got off to a bad start both halves but we got it back. There were a couple of plays at the end that really hurt us. We had a play set up. We just didn't get it done."

NOTE: Maryland started three freshmen, including F Mario Lucas for the first time in his career. Lucas had two points and three rebounds in 27 minutes.

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