Maryland comes up short on Blake's long miss, 75-70

Duke survives tying bid

No. 8 Devils, No. 13 Terps trail Wake Forest in ACC

February 20, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

DURHAM, N.C. - The Maryland Terrapins came to raucous, sold-out Cameron Indoor Stadium last night, trying to strengthen their grip on first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference and take down the Duke Blue Devils in a legendarily tough place to play, and the Terps came so close.

But after senior point guard Steve Blake's difficult three-point shot fell short with two seconds left, Maryland had to swallow a 75-70 defeat that dropped the Terps into a second-place tie in the ACC with Duke. Both teams trail first-place Wake Forest by percentage points.

Maryland (16-7, 8-4), which had won two of its previous three meetings at Duke, became the 26th consecutive opponent to lose at Cameron, while Duke (18-4, 8-4) avoided a three-game losing streak to the Terps, who were trying to complete their first regular-season sweep of the Blue Devils since 1995.

Senior forward Tahj Holden led Maryland with a career-high 18 points. Blake had 12 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and three turnovers in 37 superb minutes. Senior center Ryan Randle recovered from a rough start to finish with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Duke forward Dahntay Jones led all scorers with 21 points. Freshman guard J.J. Redick scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half for Duke, which also won a key battle with Maryland on the boards. The Blue Devils had 43 rebounds, including 18 on offense. Maryland managed 37 rebounds, 12 at the offensive end. Freshman forward Shelden Williams had 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Terps were trying to complete a difficult stretch by beating Duke on the road, just two days after defeating Wake Forest at home, where the game was postponed for one day because of the snowstorm that struck the area Sunday.

"I'm so proud of these guys, it's unbelievable," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "How could this be deflating? We had one day to get ready. We didn't get down here until [after midnight on Wednesday] and we played our [butts] off. I'll take that effort anytime. Watch us on Saturday [against North Carolina]."

The Terps, who trailed for the entire second half, yet kept coming back, nearly forced an overtime period, after choosing not to foul the Blue Devils as they were milking the shot clock. The strategy worked, as Duke guard Daniel Ewing committed a turnover with 11 seconds left in the face of Maryland's defensive pressure.

That left Maryland's fortunes in the hands of Blake, who pushed the ball up the court and was promptly triple-teamed by the Blue Devils. Blake initially tried to pass out of trouble, but leaned back and let a 22-foot attempt fly from the left of the top of the key. The shot fell well short of the rim and was grabbed by Redick, who was fouled. Redick made two free throws to seal the victory.

"We wanted to play good, tough defense at the end [instead of fouling Duke to stop the clock]," Blake said. "[Duke point guard Chris] Duhon got up on me. I thought it was a foul. I didn't get a good look at the shot, but I had to take it. I'm really upset that we lost, but at the same time, I'm happy with the way we fought back."

After some shaky outside shooting in the first half, the Blue Devils combined better three-point marksmanship with stifling defense to extend a 37-33 halftime lead to 49-41. Three-pointers by Duhon and Redick sparked the run.

The Terps bounced back with a 12-8 run to close the gap to 57-53 with 8:10 left, led by Holden. He made two free throws, then turned a six-foot jumper into a three-point play to cut the margin to 53-48. A three-pointer by Blake cut the lead to 53-51 with 11:08 left in the contest.

After a runner by Williams and a 12-foot baseline jumper by Redick that pushed the Duke lead to 57-51, Nicholas grabbed an offensive rebound and made a five-footer, cutting it to 57-53 with 8:10 left.

The Terps would spot Duke another eight-point lead, before cutting it to 68-66 on a short jump shot by Randle with 3:17 left, but the Terps could get no closer.

"It was very, very tough to put Maryland away, because they have such senior leadership in Blake and Drew Nicholas, and those guys weren't going to let them lose," Jones said. "They stepped up and made big shots, but I think it was just our will to win that pushed us on."

NOTES: The Terps arrived in Durham at approximately midnight yesterday, some five hours behind schedule, because of delays at Baltimore-Washington International Airport that forced the team to travel by bus to Dulles Airport and charter a flight to Raleigh. ... Maryland entered last night's contest ranked second nationally in assists (18.5 average), third in field-goal percentage defense (.375) and fourth in blocked shots (6.8) and steals (10.9). The Terps were 10th in the nation in scoring with an average of 81.2 points.

Next for Terps

Matchup:North Carolina (14-11) at No. 13 Maryland (16-7)

Site:Comcast Center, College Park

When:Saturday, 2 p.m.

TV/Radio:Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

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