Terps kick up Heels in OT UM uses Profit's 19, freshman spark to stun No. 1 Carolina, 89-83

Guthridge, UNC suffer 1st loss

Terps win 3rd in a row after 0-2 start in ACC

January 15, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- There should be a new No. 1 in college basketball next week, and a change at the other end of the Top 25, too.

Unranked Maryland lost its top two big men on fouls, but still won a war of attrition and an 89-83 victory over top-ranked North Carolina in overtime at frenzied Cole Field House last night. The Terps got huge games from freshmen Mike Mardesich and Terence Morris and held the Tar Heels to one point over the last 2: 27.

It was the first loss for coach Bill Guthridge, who replaced the legendary Dean Smith and got North Carolina off to a 17-0 start. It was also the Terps' first overtime win in three tries, after earlier losses to South Carolina and Clemson.

Maryland's most notable early success had been a Dec. 7 win over then-No. 2 Kansas, but the Terps were written off two weeks ago after a 32-point loss to Duke. They since have won three straight to move to 10-5 overall and 3-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"We beat the No. 1 team in the country, and you've got to feel about yourself after doing that," said junior forward Laron Profit, after the Terps were engulfed by thousands of jubilant fans at midcourt. "We wanted everyone to contribute, and everyone did."

Profit had a team-high 19 points, including the go-ahead and insurance free throws in overtime. Point guard Terrell Stokes had nine points, three assists and only one turnover. Coach Gary Williams said the Terps' 39-32 rebounding edge was the key, and Sarunas Jasikevicius had seven.

Senior forward Rodney Elliott and junior center Obinna Ekezie had 16 points apiece, but they were overshadowed by Mardesich and Morris, who combined for 22 points and were on the court for most of the overtime after the two veterans had fouled out. At the end of the first half, when LaRon Cephas put in a four-minute stint, Maryland's lineup included the three freshmen.

"Mike Mardesich was really big off the bench, and Terence Morris was great with his defense," Williams said. "Tonight was a good sign for this team and our future. I could see that Terence and Mike had no fear."

Both looked uncomfortable at the free-throw line in overtime, combining to miss four of five foul shots, but none hurt. Besides, Mardesich forced the overtime with a put-back basket with 46 seconds left in regulation, and he began the scoring in the extra five minutes with a strong inside move over Ademola Okulaja.

Vince Carter's alley-oop basket got the Tar Heels their last tie at 82 with 2: 27 left, but they didn't score again until there were 7.4 seconds left, on a free throw by Antawn Jamison. Maryland had gone ahead for good with 2: 11 left on two free throws by Profit, and Morris made one of two with 50.6 seconds left.

Jamison, the junior forward, scored only one point over the last 18 minutes, but still advanced his All-America candidacy with 27 points on 10-for-15 shooting and 13 rebounds, both game highs. The rest of the Tar Heels were 18-for-45 from the field, and for the first time in 37 games, a North Carolina opponent made 50 percent of its field-goal attempts. Maryland hit 34 of 66 (51.5 percent).

"I didn't expect to go unbeaten," Guthridge said. "I didn't come here to lose a game, but I thought Maryland was very capable of beating us. We missed some shots we would like to have made, and I didn't coach as well as I should have."

The Tar Heels last lost at Cole Field House in February 1995, when they were also No. 1.

Since starting 0-3 in the ACC last season -- including what should have been a demoralizing, come-from-ahead loss to the Terps at the Smith Center -- North Carolina (17-1, 4-1) had won 33 of 34, the only loss coming to NCAA champion Arizona at the Final Four. That had been the best stretch for the Tar Heels in more than four decades.

"You look at North Carolina, and the attention that's been on them since Dean Smith retired," Williams said. "They've been under the most pressure of any team in the country, and they survived it well. When No. 1 loses a game like this in a place like this, they shouldn't drop in the polls."

The Tar Heels, who usually go only six players deep, appeared to run out of gas at the end. They had three leads of six points in the second half, but still couldn't stop the Terps, despite the disqualification of Ekezie with 2: 27 left in regulation and Elliott 59 seconds into overtime.

Maryland was still playing because of Mardesich, who grabbed an air ball by Elliott and kissed it off the glass with 46 seconds left to force a tie at 76 and the overtime.

Carter and Shammond Williams missed jump shots from the corners on the Tar Heels' last possession in regulation. Maryland got the ball back with nine seconds left, but could only muster an off-balance attempt from the wing by Jasikevicius, a shot that was altered by Carter.

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