Terps again find despair, with twist Overtime loss to Carolina is all too familiar, except for the final scramble

January 08, 1996|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Maryland is fast becoming the tough-luck team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Terrapins lost another game they could have won and should have won Saturday night. An 88-86 overtime loss to 16th-ranked North Carolina in Cole Field House bore a striking resemblance to nonconference defeats against Massachusetts and Kentucky.

Like those earlier games, the Terps had opportunities to beat Carolina at home for the second straight season and failed. What made this the most unpalatable loss, though, was the way it went down:

* With three missed shots at the potential game-winning basket -- one by Duane Simpkins and two by Keith Booth -- in either regulation or overtime.

* With a wild scramble under the Carolina basket in overtime, an unseemly pass off the backboard by a prone Dante Calabria and an improbable basket by Antawn Jamison.

* With Maryland coach Gary Williams in a crowd huddled around ESPN monitors to see if Jamison's shot had beaten the buzzer.

Williams called it "one of the freakiest plays" he'd seen.

North Carolina coach Dean Smith aptly wrote it off to luck.

But the Terps knew better.

"It was one of those plays you work on a thousand times in practice," said Booth, who had 15 points. "You're supposed to dive on the ball and we didn't do it. You have to give North Carolina a lot of credit."

It spoiled an otherwise valiant comeback by Maryland, which rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to tie in regulation, then squandered a five-point lead in overtime.

Jamison scored 31 points in the game, 17 in the second half and eight of Carolina's 11 in overtime. He hit 14 of 16 shots, including one to tie the game at 86 and one to break the tie.

"It was one of the worst endings of a game I saw since I was 6 or 7 years old," said Terps backup point guard Terrell Stokes. "Calabria threw it up on the backboard and Jamison did what he does best."

Mario Lucas, who matched his career high with 21 points for the Terps, was on the floor wrestling with Calabria for the ball. He thought time had run out.

"He fell on top of the ball and rolled over," Lucas said. "I thought when he threw it up, [the first overtime] was over."

Calabria's improvisation saved the day for the Tar Heels (11-2, 2-0). Like Jamison, he came up big when Carolina needed it most, scoring 21 points with eight rebounds, four steals and four assists. The ball he threw up for grabs was little more than a prayer, he said.

"I was just hoping to get it to someone on our team for a shot," Calabria said. "[But] I'll take the assist."

It left Maryland between a rock and a hard place at 0-2 in the ACC and 6-5 overall. (Duke and North Carolina State also are 0-2.)

"I've seen some things on TV, but I never experienced that," Simpkins said after a 19-point effort. "Maybe that [last basket] was an extra suicide drill. . . . It's the small things that pay off."

Blizzard permitting, the Terps will try for their first ACC win again tomorrow night at home against Florida State. Their sense of desperation grew a little keener Saturday night.

"I was telling the guys this [the Carolina game] is a must-win right here," said Simpkins, a senior co-captain. "You hate to go on saying, 'We need this one, we need this one.' "

NOTES: The Terps are 2-5 when they shoot under 50 percent (48.4 vs. Carolina), and 0-3 when they are out-rebounded (Carolina 33-30). . . . In two ACC games, Terps opponents are shooting 53.4 percent, including 47.6 from beyond the arc. . . . Smith is 61-19 lifetime against Maryland.

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