Terps pull rank on Wisconsin in overtime, 73-67

Senior Smith's 25 points lead young team to 4-0, first win over ranked foe

Caner-Medley foul shot forces OT

`Guys' competitiveness' pleases Williams

Harris drills 5 threes for No. 15

December 03, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Jamar Smith had put up some good numbers against lower-tier competition. Last night, the Maryland Terrapins' senior center carried his team in the clutch against a big-time opponent.

Smith scored a career-high 25 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and gave the Terps the final push they needed in overtime, as Maryland outlasted No. 15 Wisconsin, 73-67, in a hard-fought Atlantic Coast Conference-Big Ten Challenge basketball contest before a sellout crowd of 17,950 at Comcast Center.

Smith, who has recorded a double double in each game this season, scored six points in overtime, including a layup to start the extra period and a huge pair of free throws with 40 seconds left that gave Maryland a 70-65 advantage. Smith earned the trip to the foul line after grabbing an offensive rebound of a missed free throw by freshman guard D.J. Strawberry.

Smith's heroics allowed the Terps (4-0) to defeat their first ranked opponent of the season, and it allowed them to survive the blistering three-point shooting of the Badgers (3-1), who made 10 of 23 attempts from long range and were led by point guard Devin Harris.

Harris scored 24 points on the strength of 5-for-12 shooting from three-point range. He had 20 points after the first half and hit all five of his threes in the second half.

Last night marked the third time Maryland has faced the Badgers in the past four seasons, and the second time the Terps have gone to overtime against Wisconsin in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Terps lost to the Badgers, 78-75, in Milwaukee three years ago.

Not only did the Terps move to 4-0 for only the fourth time in the 15-year tenure of coach Gary Williams. Maryland, after a shaky outing in a victory over Hofstra, inhaled a giant dose of confidence after prevailing in the first of three games over eight days against ranked opponents.

This victory came down to a young, quick, determined Maryland team pushing itself in front of a roaring home crowd to overcome a wily, disciplined, resourceful opponent in the Badgers.

The game was marked by 12 lead changes, and included a career-high 16-point night from sophomore guard Chris McCray. The Terps lost a 30-22 halftime lead, and needed sophomore forward Nik Caner-Medley to make a free throw with 2.4 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 61 - after Caner-Medley had missed the first one.

"I hope we can run our offense like [Wisconsin] at some point this year," Williams said. "We're not there yet, but my guys' competitiveness in wanting to win that game really showed me something, because this was our first game where it was really on the line.

"They made a great run at us and took the lead, and we really had to suck it up to win the thing. I was really proud of Jamar Smith. He really stepped it up when we needed it."

Smith, mixing power moves with short jumpers, made 10 of 18 shots and was the driving force behind a Maryland offense that controlled the Badgers down low. The Terps outscored Wisconsin in the paint, 40-22.

"This was very important to me, and very important to the team. I'd have to say this was a must win," said Smith, alluding to Maryland's first encounter against a ranked opponent. "I don't look at myself as a go-to guy, but I've got to do it."

"Jamar is a team guy who likes to fall back. I was telling him they can't stop you down there. Go at them," said sophomore point guard John Gilchrist, who fought Harris all night and turned in a splendid effort of his own with 12 points, seven rebounds, a career-high nine assists and one turnover in 41 minutes.

"Jamar definitely won the game for us tonight. This is definitely a confidence booster for this team."

The Terps made it to overtime because they survived a seesaw, second-half battle that the Badgers nearly claimed after forward Mike Wilkinson (14 points, nine rebounds, five assists) made an off-balance three-pointer with 12.5 seconds left in regulation, giving Wisconsin a 61-60 lead. It was Wisconsin's first advantage since taking a 48-46 lead with 7:21 left.

After Wilkinson's basket, Maryland brought the ball across midcourt and called timeout. Then, Gilchrist drove past Harris and missed a layup. Caner-Medley grabbed the rebound and got fouled, then missed his first attempt. After he made the game-tying free throw, Strawberry stole the ball near midcourt and launched a 40-footer that bounced off the front of the iron as time expired.

"I've never had a game on the line with a free throw before," Caner-Medley said. "I had the pressure of the team on me. I'm going to sleep real well tonight."

Next for Terps

Matchup: No. 17 Gonzaga (3-1) vs. Maryland (4-0) in BB&T Classic

Site: MCI Center, Washington

When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

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

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