Half effort by Maryland not enough to top Duke Blue Devils start fast, hold off Terps, 83-73

January 29, 1996|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

DURHAM, N.C. -- The on-again, off-again Maryland Terrapins hit the skids again yesterday, and their latest derailment left coach Gary Williams in a dark mood.

"The way we played in the first half, I guess I probably should have gotten sick again," said Williams, forced off the bench late last season with pneumonia.

Gallows humor seemed fitting after the Terps spotted Duke a 20-point first-half lead, surged to within six, and ultimately fell to the Blue Devils, 83-73.

The grisly two-hour, 35-minute marathon at Cameron Indoor Stadium was a critical Atlantic Coast Conference loss for the Terps (9-7, 2-4), who are winless in three ACC road games.

Their second-half comeback was valiant, but tended to obscure the issue of ragged first-half basketball. It was not lost on Williams, however.

"It's very frustrating not to get these guys to go for 40 minutes," Williams said. "They can say whatever they want, but until they care enough -- until they want to do it -- it'll be like that on the road. They've got to step up.

"It's amazing. You look at that as a coach and wonder why you can't play with the same aggressiveness in two halves. We have in the past, but haven't this year."

Maryland had won its previous two ACC games -- both at home -- with intensity and aggressiveness. But yesterday's loss was reminiscent of a wretched first half against Wake Forest on the road and a poor second half at Georgia Tech.

The Terps started slowly against Duke (12-7, 3-4), but were within 20-15 when the game took a decisive turn. The Blue Devils used a 20-5 run to open a 40-20 lead with 3:50 left in the half. Maryland hit 10 of 31 shots in the half and got out-rebounded by paper-thin Duke, 26-17.

"That, to me, is being aggressive," Williams said. "There's only so much technique that goes into rebounding. They wanted the ball more. . . . We had no fight."

The Terps forced 26 turnovers -- 16 in the second half -- and twice trimmed their deficit to six. But Duke answered both times, first on Steve Wojciechowski's big three-pointer with 2:58 to play and in the final 27 seconds with a parade of free throws.

Wojciechowski, a graduate of Cardinal Gibbons in Baltimore, scored a career-high 13 points, hitting eight of 11 free throws.

"That three really hurt us," said Maryland's Johnny Rhodes, who scored 22 points. "We weren't expecting him to shoot."

Duke had 49 field-goal attempts and 47 free throws (hitting 32) in a game that featured 52 personal fouls and one technical -- on Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos in the first half -- and one flagrant foul on the Terps' Keith Booth for pushing off hard against Greg Newton in the second half.

Booth (15 points, 11 rebounds) said Maryland was setting up a trap when he fouled Newton two minutes into the second half.

"It was a good trap," he said. "The ref called me for pushing off, but it wasn't intentional. He [Newton] did a great acting job."

In the grim aftermath, Williams didn't rule out shaking up the lineup again. The Terps blew an opportunity to climb to fourth in the ACC, settling in at sixth.

"We're a team that's capable of doing anything we want," Rhodes said. "But we have to be ready to play 40 minutes."

The Terps will get their next chance to pass a road test Thursday at Virginia. The season may hang in the balance.

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