Mich. St. bench sidelines Terps

Decisive basket gives Spartans' reserves 31-11 edge over UM's

Ncaa Tournament

March 29, 2003|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

SAN ANTONIO - Maryland missed 11 of its first 12 three-point tries last night against Michigan State, but the key to its loss in the South Regional semifinals could be found on the bench as much as on the perimeter.

The Spartans' reserves outscored the Terps' 31-11, and that whopping margin included the biggest basket of the night, the baseline drive by Paul Davis that won it with 4.7 seconds left. The 6-foot-11 freshman began the game on the bench and finished it with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting and five rebounds.

Davis got Michigan State's last six points. He scored the tying basket on a flying dunk with 59 seconds left, and on the winner he drove the right baseline past Tahj Holden and pulled up for a bank shot over Drew Nicholas.

"He's got good skills and athletic ability," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "It's just a matter of consistency. He's coming on, and some day he's going to be a very good player."

Michigan State's bench strength extended to 10 points from freshman guard Maurice Ager and eight from Adam Ballinger. Maryland made its gutty rally from a 54-40 deficit, thanks to boosts from Smith, who scored seven of the Terps' bench points and challenged the Spartans inside, and freshman point guard John Gilchrist, who harassed them on the outside during the Terps' 15-0 run.

Maryland coach Gary Williams was limited in his flexibility. Freshman Nik Caner-Medley dislocated his left ankle with 11:05 left in the first half and did not return. For only the second time since Feb. 6, Calvin McCall started in place of Caner-Medley, who was disciplined for being late to a team function.

"He went to the hospital, but he's coming back to the hotel," Terps coach Gary Williams said. "It hurts, losing a guy who's playing well, but we've certainly overcome other things this year. ... The biggest rule we have is be on time. Nik's a good guy, and it's a shame we have to stick with that rule."

In the first half, big men Davis and Ballinger came in and combined for 11 points. After some rare spirited play drew Maryland even at 32 with 16:42 left, Michigan State answered with a 15-2 run, and the central figure was Ager, who had seven points in that spurt. Ager, who averages 6.4 points, got 16 in the Spartans' upset of second-seeded Florida in the second round.

As much as Williams crowed about a deep rotation, Izzo also has some interchangeable parts, as nine players average 14 minutes or more.

With Ryan Randle reverting to the ineffectual effort that marked the end of the regular season, Smith became the Terps' go-to guy on their biggest possession of the game. His short bank shot with 39 seconds left rolled off the rim. Michigan State then ran the clock down and got the ball to Davis, who had his best game since he scored 21 points in 23 minutes in a Feb. 8 overtime win over Indiana.

"Jamar's very quick," Williams said. "When he got comfortable with how physical Michigan State was playing, he was quicker than their players."

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