Terps rally, can't catch Wake, 81-72

No. 19 Deacons hold off Maryland's 2nd-half push

`We weren't ready to play tonight'

17-point deficit is cut to 2

ACC win streak ends at 14

January 16, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Maryland Terrapins got their first taste of life on the road in the Atlantic Coast Conference as defending NCAA champions last night, and it was not pleasant.

The 19th-ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who were missing injured starting point guard Justin Gray, still brought a host of skilled, determined athletes to Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Led by forwards Josh Howard and Vytas Danelius and guard Jamaal Levy, Wake Forest took a 17-point second-half lead, withstood a fierce Maryland comeback, then pulled away to an 81-72 victory before 11,623.

For Wake Forest (11-1, 1-1), it marked the first time in eight tries that it has beaten Maryland (9-4, 2-1), which lost its first conference game of the season and ended its school-record 14-game ACC winning streak.

Next up for No. 17 Maryland is a renewal of its spirited rivalry with Duke, the nation's top-ranked and only undefeated team, which visits Comcast Center on Saturday. The Demon Deacons bounced back after getting routed at Duke three nights earlier.

Wake Forest won the way it has won all season. The Demon Deacons entered as the league's best rebounding and free-throw shooting teams, and Wake played to those strengths impressively on a night when it committed 21 turnovers and shot just 37.9 percent, making only three of 19 three-point shots in the process.

The Demon Deacons clearly outworked Maryland, grabbing 49 rebounds to Maryland's 36, and converted 34 of 42 free throws, while the Terps made 12 of 18 at the line.

Senior point guard Steve Blake, who twisted his left ankle early in the game, came on to lead Maryland with 15 points and seven assists. Senior reserve guard Calvin McCall gave the Terps a huge lift off the bench and finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

Howard led all scorers with 23 points, adding eight rebounds and four blocked shots. Danelius scored 19 points. Freshman center Eric Williams added 16 points and six rebounds, while Levy had a game-high 11 rebounds to go with his 12 points.

It was an emotional, physical affair from start to finish, as the teams combined to produce 46 fouls, then tangled briefly at the game's conclusion. About 10 players had to be separated by a handful of coaches and security personnel after the final buzzer. During the disturbance, Blake and Howard got into a shouting match, and McCall kicked over a chair.

"Losing this game is painful. I hate to lose at anything," McCall said.

"I heard the coaches saying, `Get back! Get back!' I'm not sure what happened," said Danelius, who made nine of 13 free throws to highlight his evening. "[Maryland] might not have expected us to win."

"Tempers flare when you've got competitive guys out there," said senior forward Tahj Holden, who missed seven of eight shots and finished with four points and three rebounds in 27 minutes.

Said Maryland coach Gary Williams: "We weren't ready to play tonight. I'm really disappointed with that. Wake played harder than we did. They really did a good job on the glass. This is our first road game in the league, and maybe you put a little bit of this on that fact. Hopefully, you learn you have to be ready to play wherever you are."

The Terps seemed on the verge of a meltdown in the first half and the early part of the second, as Wake Forest took control of the game early, then used the first nine minutes after halftime to sprint to a 59-42 lead.

But Maryland showed the heart of a champion by digging down to stage a comeback behind Blake and its bench, cutting the margin to 66-64 at the 4:52 mark with a 22-7 run.

During the surge, the Terps got a pair of three-pointers from freshman guard Chris McCray -- who scored all eight of his points in that span -- and a combined six points from McCall and junior forward Jamar Smith.

Howard banked in a runner to make it 68-64, but the Terps would threaten once more, closing to 73-71 on Holden's three-pointer.

Then, with the shot clock winding down, Wake Forest's Taron Downey launched a shot that was wide left, giving Maryland a chance to tie or take the lead.

But Blake missed a three-point shot, Wake Forest got the rebound and Danelius was fouled. He made both free throws to give the Deacons a 75-71 lead.

The Terps drew two technical fouls, one on Williams in the first half, the other on Blake in the closing seconds, as the Demon Deacons put the game away at the foul line. When it was over, Williams said he heard a threatening comment from one of the members of the officiating crew.

"We had a referee tell us tonight he'd see us in the next week, and he said it in a threatening way," said Williams, who declined to elaborate.

Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser was relieved his team survived the slugfest.

"I think the one thing that makes this league special is its intensity," Prosser said. "We had 21 turnovers and shot 3-for-19 from three-point range. That might redefine ugly win. But it beats the heck out of a beautiful loss."

Next for Terps

Matchup: No. 17 Maryland (9-4) vs. No. 1 Duke (12-0)

Site: Comcast Center, College Park

When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 2, 7/WBAL (1090 AM)

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