Terps find way back into win column, 74-72

No. 16 Maryland ends its two-game skid with victory over feisty FSU

Nicholas scores 20 points

Blake hits three-pointer down the stretch, then adds 4 crucial free throws

February 13, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Maryland Terrapins remained in second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference, became the first ACC team to win three road games in league play this season, and beat Florida State for the fifth consecutive time, but it was anything but easy.

Senior point guard Steve Blake scored Maryland's last seven points by hitting a crucial three-point shot with 2:36 remaining and making four straight free throws in the final 17 seconds, as the No. 16 Terps came from behind late to edge the Seminoles, 74-72, last night at the Leon County Civic Center.

Maryland (15-6, 7-3) avoided its first three-game losing streak in two years and beat Florida State (11-10, 2-8) for the 15th time in the past 16 meetings between the teams.

The Terps, who came from behind to take a 38-33 halftime lead, appeared to have wrested control away from Florida State midway through the second half, as Maryland began to work the ball inside successfully. Starting with a third-chance dunk by Ryan Randle, the Terps went on a 12-4 run to turn a 51-50 lead into a 63-54 advantage with 7:05 remaining in the game.

But the Seminoles, as they did by making up an early 10-point deficit in a spirited, first-half effort, charged back with nine unanswered points - five coming from senior center Trevor Harvey - to tie the score at 63-63 with five minutes left.

After a runner by backup forward Jamar Smith that gave the Terps a 65-63 lead, the Seminoles took a 67-65 lead with 3:34 left on two free throws by point guard Todd Galloway and a slam by Harvey, who finished with a career-high 19 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

But the Terps responded with five straight points to take a 70-67 lead. Drew Nicholas (game-high 20 points) converted a tough layup to tie the score, and after Harvey missed a 4-footer, Nicholas drove the lane and found Blake alone in the right corner. Blake, who finished with 15 points, calmly swished a 23-footer.

On the strength of great shooting by Nicholas and strong early rebounding, the Terps bolted to a 14-4 lead three minutes into the contest. Nicholas, who made four of his first five shots, hit his first three attempts from the three-point line to get Maryland rolling. His third three-pointer gave the Terps a 17-7 lead with 15:30 left in the first half.

Then, Maryland's offense went into a funk, as Nicholas could not get off a shot for the rest of the half, partly because the Terps could not get the ball to him, partly because the Terps could not get the ball inside with any consistency. And while Maryland struggled to get through possessions without committing a turnover, the Seminoles began to warm up.

Point guard Nate Johnson, who hit a career-high four three-pointers and scored a career-high 14 points in the opening half alone, awakened the Florida State attack. His second three-pointer from the top of the key cut the Maryland lead to 17-10 and fueled a 13-5 run by Florida State, which pulled to within 19-17 on a three-pointer by Tim Pickett with 11:45 left in the half.

John Gilchrist, Travis Garrison and Calvin McCall each scored baskets to push Maryland back in front 25-19 with 9:02 remaining in the half, but the Terps could not sustain their momentum. After Florida State's Galloway blew a fast-break layup, Maryland failed to convert at its offensive end. Harvey then made a 15-footer.

McCall then had his layup attempt rejected, and Pickett made two free throws to cut the lead to 25-23. The teams traded turnovers, before Blake made two free throws, and the teams swapped turnovers once again. Johnson then converted back-to-back three-pointers, sandwiched around Randle's two free throws, and the Seminoles had pulled into a 29-29 tie with 4:29 left.

At that point, the Terps had missed six consecutive shots, while the Seminoles had enjoyed a 7-for-11 stretch. It then got worse for Maryland, as Florida State forward Adam Waleskowski made two free throws to give the Seminoles their first lead of the night at 31-29 with 2:58 left in the half.

Maryland, which missed 10 of its last 13 shots in the first half, then regained its composure by putting a half-ending, 9-2 run to take a 38-33 halftime lead. Blake started the run with a three-pointer from the left corner. Gilchrist then drove the lane and kicked a nice feed on the left wing to backup shooting guard Chris McCray, who made a three to make it 35-31.

After Johnson made two free throws, Tahj Holden then made his only three of the half with 21 seconds left, giving Maryland its five-point cushion at the break.

The Seminoles continued to charge back at Maryland to open the second half, which began with Randle missing his first two shots and committing his third foul in the opening 90 seconds.

Harvey made a six-footer, while forward Anthony Richardson scored three points on a free throw and an 18-footer to get the Seminoles within 40-38. After a free throw by Nicholas, Pickett hit a three-pointer from the left wing to tie the game at 41-41 with 16:48 left.

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