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

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

14-game ACC win streak ends

17-point deficit cut to 2, but UM fizzles at end

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 their starting point guard, Justin Gray, still brought a host of skilled athletes to Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Led by forwards Josh Howard, Vytas Danelius and Jamaal Levy, Wake Forest took a 17-point second-half lead, turned back a determined Maryland comeback, then pulled away to an 81-72 victory.

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.

The Deacons bounced back after getting whipped at top-ranked Duke, which pays a visit to No. 17 Maryland on Saturday. The Blue Devils are atop the ACC and remain the nation's only undefeated team.

Wake Forest won the way it has won all season. The Deacons entered the game as the league's best rebounding and free-throw shooting team, and Wake Forest played to those strengths impressively.

The Deacons outrebounded Maryland 49-36 and shot 34-for-42 from the foul line.

Howard led Wake Forest with 23 points and eight rebounds. Danelius scored 19 points, freshman center Eric Williams added 16 and Levy had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Terps seemed on the verge of a meltdown, as Wake Forest used the first nine minutes of the second half to sprint to a 59-42 lead. Led by Howard, Levy and Danelius, the Deacons recorded two three-point plays, dominated the boards and shot impressively at the foul line.

But Maryland showed the heart of a champion by digging down to stage a comeback behind point guard Steve Blake (15 points, seven assists) and its bench, cutting the margin to 66-64 at the 4:52 mark with a 22-7 run. But Howard banked in a runner and Levy tipped one it to make it 70-64.

Maryland closed to 73-71 on Tahj Holden's three-pointer with 2:46 to play, 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.

Wake Forest wrapped up the victory by making six of eight foul shots in the final minute.

Maryland shooting guard Drew Nicholas finished with nine points, shooting 4-for-14. As a team, Maryland shot 38.2 percent.

Both teams came out tentatively and spent most of the first half trading turnovers and bad shots, most of which they missed, as Wake Forest used a decisive advantage on the boards and its free-throw shooting to take a 32-27 halftime lead.

In the first half, Wake Forest grabbed 27 rebounds to 15 for Maryland. The Deacons also converted 10 of 11 free-throw attempts.

For most of the half, the teams combined for more turnovers than baskets. Each barely shot 35 percent. Neither could find much of a rhythm offensively.

Things went badly for the Terps from the start.

Two minutes into the contest, Blake landed awkwardly on his left ankle while battling unsuccessfully for a rebound. He labored noticeably throughout an ineffective 19 minutes. Nicholas started missing and barely stopped, making just two of 11 shots.

Starting forwards Travis Garrison and Nik Caner-Medley combined for two points and two rebounds during a collective 14 minutes.

Only a spark from the bench - mainly senior reserve guard Calvin McCall - kept Maryland from getting buried early, despite 12 first-half turnovers by the Deacons. McCall led the Terps with eight points and four rebounds in eight outstanding minutes.

Wake Forest opened in a zone defense, which bothered Maryland, although the Terps did take an early 6-5 lead on baskets by Caner-Medley, Nicholas and Ryan Randle. But behind Howard (10 first-half points) and Williams (eight points, four rebounds in the half), the Deacons put Maryland on its heels, first with an 8-0 run that gave Wake a 13-6 lead with 10:41 left in the half.

After Randle scored on a tip-in to make it 13-8, McCall and freshman point guard John Gilchrist converted Deacons turnovers into layups, trimming Wake's lead to 15-12 with 8:51 to go.

Holden then missed back-to-back open three-point attempts, and the Deacons responded with five straight points. A layup by Williams, two free throws by Howard and a free throw by Levy gave the Deacons a 20-12 advantage with 6:31 left in the half.

At that point, each team had made only six of 17 shots and had combined for 16 turnovers.

Maryland then put together its first fluid stretch of offense. Nicholas took a rebound, drove the length of the floor and made a layup. Blake then answered a 17-footer by Howard with his first basket, a three-pointer from the left wing. Gilchrist added a fast-break layup to cut the lead to 22-19 with 4:20 left.

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