WINTON-SALEM, N.C. — WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Maryland Terrapins won here ugly a year ago, scraping together enough points to barely beat Wake Forest. It might have been their least artistic victory last season.
They were even uglier last night -- and not nearly as fortunate.
In a performance that seems destined for the scrapheap rather than the scrapbook, the seventh-ranked Terrapins lost to the No. 14 Demon Deacons, 63-54, before 13,207 at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
Despite holding All-America guard Randolph Childress scoreless in the first half and to eight points for the game while getting sophomore center Tim Duncan in early foul trouble, Maryland couldn't overcome its own ineptitude.
The Terps shot a season-low 33.9 percent from the field, which included 1-for-15 from three-point range, and had as many turnovers (19) as baskets. It wasn't merely their worst offensive performance of the season; it was without question their worst game this year.
"It was a tough loss, but at the same time, we knew it was going to be a tough game," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose team was held to its fewest points since the third game of his first season in 1989-90. "Wake Forest is a top 15 team. If you don't play well against a team like that, you're going to lose."
Said Wake Forest coach Dave Odom: "We felt very fortunate, very lucky, to win the game. It is easy for me to say that we caught Maryland on not their best night. They did not play nearly as well as I have seen them at other times this season."
Maryland caught freshman guard Tony Rutland on his best night, and senior forward Scooter Banks on one of his better ones. Rutland scored a career-high 19 points, 14 in the second half, and Banks added 11 points, 10 rebounds and some tough defense on Joe Smith. The sophomore All-American led the Terps with 17 points, but had only six rebounds.
In losing to Wake Forest (16-5, 7-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) for the first time since the 1992-93 season, Maryland (19-5, 9-3) also dropped out of a first-place tie with North Carolina and into a second-place tie with Virginia.
But as badly as they played, the Terps still had a chance to win. After seeing a three-point halftime lead turn into a 12-point deficit twice in the second half, the second time at 55-43 with 7:58 left, Maryland closed within 58-54 with 3:36 to go.
"We were out of sync a little bit down the stretch," said point guard Duane Simpkins, who along with Smith spurred Maryland's comeback and was the Terps' only other double-figure scorer with 10. "You can say what you want about the whole game, but it was anybody's ballgame the last two minutes."
It turned out to be Wake Forest's game when Banks intercepted a pass by Johnny Rhodes with 48.2 seconds left and the Terps behind by four. Childress was fouled and hit both ends of a one-and-one. After reserve guard Wayne Bristol was called for a double-dribble, Childress scored on a breakaway to seal the game with 31.1 seconds left.
The last half-minute was just a continuation of Maryland's self-destruction. A steal by Rutland led to two more free throws by Childress. Then Keith Booth's shot was blocked by Banks, and the crowd counted down the final seconds before swarming on the court.
"People said going into the ACC that we were only a two-man team," said Duncan, who despite being limited to seven points and 31 minutes because of foul trouble was a force inside, finishing with 11 rebounds and six blocks. "But I think we showed that we're more than that when the other guys step up."
Said Childress, who wound up shooting two of eight from the field and equaled his season-low point total, "With the kind of night I was having, I knew I had to get the ball to the guys who were open."
Mostly it was Rutland, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound guard who played in the shadow of his celebrated teammate, Allen Iverson, at Bethel High School in Hampton, Va. Rutland finished the game five of nine overall, but he was three of four on threes.
In what turned out to be a key move, Odom started Rutland in the second half ahead of fellow freshman Jerry Braswell. Rutland had been starting earlier in the season but recently had missed some practices to be with his cancer-stricken mother.
"It's been tough," said Rutland. "I've been taking it day-to-day. Having a game like this will give me a lot of confidence."
While Rutland and Banks helped make up for subpar performances by Childress and Duncan, Smith didn't get the same kind of support. Forwards Exree Hipp and Booth combined for only 12 points on 4-for-15 shooting and 11 rebounds -- as well as eight turnovers. Rhodes scored all nine of his points in the first half, and fouled out. Maryland had a season-low nine assists.
Asked if this was Maryland's worst game, Smith nodded. "I think it was. We came out flat and we let them set the tempo. We didn't execute on offense and we didn't play good defense."