Va. changes lanes on UM

Winless on ACC road, Cavs warm to Comcast with flurry of threes, 86-78

1 basket in last 9:00 sinks Terps

16-0 run kills 65-53 lead

defeat is first at home to ACC foe in nearly 2 years

February 07, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - After losing nine consecutive games at the University of Maryland's former home at Cole Field House, the Virginia Cavaliers finally enjoyed some payback last night in their first visit to Comcast Center.

Sparked by great three-point shooting and an outstanding night by backup sophomore guard Devin Smith, Virginia erased a 12-point second-half deficit with a furious rally and upset No. 8 Maryland, 86-78, before a stunned sellout crowd.

With the loss, Maryland's first to an unranked team this year and first at home to an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent in 15 games - a stretch spanning nearly two years - the Terps (14-5, 6-2) concluded the first half of their league schedule by falling into a first-place tie with Wake Forest. Virginia broke Maryland's five-game winning streak.

It also marked the first road conference victory of the season by Virginia (13-7, 4-4), which beat Maryland overall for only the third time in the past 11 meetings between the schools. Overall, it was only the eighth road victory in the conference this season.

Smith led Virginia with 17 points, highlighted by 5-for-7 shooting from three-point range. Senior center Travis Watson scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who also got 11 points from point guard Majestic Mapp and 10 points from forward Elton Brown.

The Cavaliers shot 49.1 percent, the highest percentage allowed by Maryland this season. Virginia, which got an astounding 43 points from its bench, had six different players make three-pointers, as the Cavaliers made 12 of 22 (54.5 percent) from beyond the arc.

Smith scored 14 of his points in the second half, when Virginia turned a 65-53 Maryland lead into an improbable victory.

"Virginia was better prepared tonight in terms of their effort and energy. They played with a lot of emotion and passion. We got caught not playing great defense," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose Terps had spotted the Cavaliers an early 33-20 lead before charging back to take a 37-35 lead late in the first half.

"We gave [Virginia] some looks, they made shots, and they got their confidence. When you're the eighth-ranked team and the defending national champions, you have a certain responsibility to know you're going to get a team's best shot. It looked like tonight we thought we could get away without playing our A game."

Maryland senior guard Drew Nicholas led all scorers with 20 points. Senior center Ryan Randle added 17 points and six rebounds. Senior point guard Steve Blake added 12 points on a night that he and Nicholas each reached the 1,000-point career mark.

That offered little consolation for Maryland, which scored just one basket over the game's final 9:06 - a meaningless, last-second dunk by Nicholas - did not force a single turnover over that stretch, and could not prevent the Cavaliers from scoring as their 69-59 lead evaporated.

"We didn't compete at times. That's the most frustrating thing," said Maryland senior forward Tahj Holden, who had 11 points. "When you're up by 10 with about 10 minutes left, you're supposed to put teams away, especially when you're the No. 8 team in the country. Everybody had their downfalls today."

The Terps started uncharacteristically by playing slipshod defense and leaving too many shooters open. The Cavaliers torched Maryland with 47 first-half points on 55.1 percent shooting, marking the Terps' worst defensive first half of the year.

Still, Maryland opened the second half with a 13-2 run and seemed to be settling down. That run featured Randle, who scored eight points to help Maryland quickly erase a 47-45 halftime lead and take a 58-49 lead with 14:29 left in the game.

Only Smith's three-point shooting kept Virginia from falling too far behind, and Smith would single-handedly quiet the home crowd with an outside shooting display in the second half.

When reserve forward Travis Garrison made an 18-foot jumper to give Maryland a 69-59 advantage with 9:06 to go, the Terps appeared to have gained control of the contest. But Smith, who made four three-pointers in the second half, would not allow it to happen.

Following a slam by Watson that trimmed lead to 69-61, Smith made back-to-back threes to make it 69-67.

Then, following another missed shot by the Terps, backup guard Jermaine Harper nailed a three-pointer from the left corner, giving Virginia a 70-69 lead with 6:21 left. Harper made another three with 3:55 left, completing a stunning 16-0 run by Virginia, which took a 75-69 lead with 3:58 to go.

The closest the Terps would get was 77-73, after Holden and backup forward Nik Caner-Medley (seven points, seven rebounds) made a combined four free throws.

"We beat an excellent basketball team in Maryland in a tough place to play. I'm most proud of the fact that we had a lead, and then Maryland went up by nine or 10, and our kids didn't wilt," Virginia coach Pete Gillen said.

"We had poise. This is a tough venue. As they get the lead, the crowd gets louder and you get out of sync. We just kept throwing guys in and out, so when someone was out of sync, someone else came in and fortunately did a good job. It was just our night."

Next for Terps

Matchup: No. 8 Maryland (14-5) vs. Georgia Tech (11-8)

Site:Alexander Memorial Coliseum, Atlanta

When:Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio:Chs. 13, 9/WBAL (1090 AM)

ACC standings

Conf. Overall

W L W L

Wake Forest 6 2 16 2

Maryland 6 2 14 5

Duke 5 3 15 3

N.C. State 5 3 12 6

Virginia 4 4 13 7

Georgia Tech 4 4 11 8

Clemson 2 6 12 6

Florida State 2 6 11 8

North Carolina 2 6 11 10

Yesterday's results

Virginia 86, Maryland 78

Wake Forest 73, N.C. State 58

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