Wojciechowski stands tall for surging Duke Ex-Gibbons star sparks third straight ACC win

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

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke had been pushed to this precipice before.

The Blue Devils had blown all but six points of a 20-point lead late in the second half against Maryland. They stood on the brink of another unsightly collapse down the stretch.

Then Steve Wojciechowski buried a big three-pointer from the corner and even though Maryland made another run, Duke was able to hold on for an 83-73 Atlantic Coast Conference victory yesterday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Wojciechowski, a 5-foot-11 sophomore from Severna Park and Cardinal Gibbons High, was an unlikely hero as Duke claimed its third straight ACC win after an 0-4 start.

Unlikely because he had scored just 10 points in the Blue Devils' first six conference games as a reserve guard. Yesterday, he turned back Maryland with a career-high 13 points -- all in the second half.

He also collected five rebounds and had two steals in a gritty 24-minute stint.

"Wojo was a key, key player," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the Blue Devils climbed past Maryland into a tie with Clemson for fourth place.

Two defensive series in the second half, ending with a blocked shot by Jeff Capel and a steal by Wojciechowski, were representative of Duke's newfound resilience.

Capel had a turnover, but came back to block a layup attempt by Maryland's Terrell Stokes. A few minutes later, Wojciechowski lost the ball to Stokes -- but made amends when he got it back and scored on a three-point play.

"I thought one of the biggest plays of the game was Jeff Capel's block after he made a mistake," Krzyzewski said. "That's one of the things we have been working on with our kids, their reaction after a mistake. Steve got stripped at half court, and the next time he stripped Stokes. That was a huge, huge play."

This, Wojciechowski said, was the best the Blue Devils had handled adversity this season.

"They [the Terps] have athletes coming off the end of their bench. We got shaky for a while, but the bottom line was, we handled it and won by 10. The team that can handle tough situations is the team that's going to win the league."

Wojciechowski's big three came with 2:58 to play after Maryland got within 67-61.

"Chris [Collins] penetrated and my guy sagged off," he said. "I was open in the corner and I had my rhythm. I'm going to shoot that shot when I'm open."

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