Terps rise, upset Wake

Gilchrist's late free throw defeats No. 3 seed, 87-86, sends UM to semifinals

Terps to face N.C. State today

Victory improves record to 17-11, likely cements 11th straight NCAA bid

Acc Tournament

March 13, 2004|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

GREENSBORO, N.C. - He spent much of the first half seated on the bench in foul trouble, but Maryland sophomore point guard John Gilchrist never lost his rhythm last night.

Gilchrist completed another clutch performance by making a free throw with 3.7 seconds left to lift the sixth-seeded Maryland Terrapins to an 87-86 victory over third-seeded Wake Forest in an Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinal at Greensboro Coliseum.

Besides sending Maryland (17-11) into its 27th ACC tournament semifinal today against second-seeded North Carolina State, the victory removed any lingering doubts about Maryland's qualifications to reach the NCAA tournament for the 11th consecutive season.

Maryland, which had been swept during the regular season by Wake Forest, overcame a 30-point effort by freshman point guard Chris Paul to defeat the 15th-ranked Demon Deacons (19-9). It marked the Terps' fifth victory over a ranked opponent this season.

"That was a great game," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose team was the only lower seed to win here yesterday. "It wasn't perfect but we played hard. We made mistakes, but we never quit."

Said Gilchrist: "We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could beat a team of this caliber. We said we can't lose to a team this many times. Three times? We can't let that happen."

After Maryland called a timeout with 12.9 seconds remaining, Gilchrist drew a foul by Taron Downey after executing a spin move 20 feet from the basket. He then sank the free throw to break an 86-86 tie.

He missed the second attempt and, after a brief scramble for the ball, Wake Forest could get off only a desperation heave.

"It worked out well," Williams said of the game-ending sequence. "He [Gilchrist] got a piece of the rim, so it's going to be a long shot at the end [for Wake Forest]. We're not experienced enough to plan that. John made a great play after he missed because he got a hand on the ball."

Five Maryland players finished in double figures, with Gilchrist and sophomore forward Travis Garrison scoring 16 each. Garrison had a game-high 10 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Chris McCray and sophomore forward Nik Caner-Medley finished with 13 points apiece. Senior center Jamar Smith had 11 points.

Maryland completed one of its best shooting nights of the season by making nine of 14 three-point attempts and 24 of 32 free throws. Wake Forest shot 30-for-69, including 9-for-23 on threes, and was 17-for-28 from the foul line.

"We're a 70 percent free-throw team and they're not," said Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser. "They made their free throws and we didn't. That's why they're playing tomorrow and we're not. That's not the only reason, but that's a big part of it."

Said Williams: "In the second half, we made five of six threes; that's a first. We got some good looks because we ran our offense well in the second half."

After being out-rebounded by a combined 25 in its two losses to Wake, the Terps won the battle of the boards, 43-36.

Maryland hustled on the boards, had solid free-throw shooting and covered nicely for Gilchrist - who played only 10 minutes in the first half due to two early fouls - to forge a 36-36 tie at the half.

Garrison, one of eight Maryland players who scored in the first 20 minutes, had 10 first-half points. The Terps, the worst free-throw shooting team in the ACC, made 10 of 14 attempts in the half, and Maryland battled Wake to a 20-20 rebounding stalemate.

The Demon Deacons took an early 5-2 lead, but could not extend their lead beyond four points in the game's opening eight minutes, as both teams had trouble getting into any offensive flow.

Six Maryland players scored in the early going, which included a 4-for-5 start for the Terps at the free-throw line. Smith and Garrison got the Terps' scoring started with jumpers, and Gilchrist's three-pointer put Maryland on top briefly, 9-7.

Paul got Wake Forest untracked with a three-pointer from the right wing, then hit two foul shots to give the Demon Deacons a 14-12 lead with 13:25 left in the half. A layup by Kyle Visser made it 16-12 with 12:43 to go, but the Terps answered quickly with a three-pointer from D.J. Strawberry to cut the lead the 16-15.

Then, with 11:27 left, Gilchrist drew his second foul and went to the bench, where he sat for more than seven minutes before returning briefly, then sitting for the remainder of the half. That did not subtract from Maryland's energy level, as the lead then changed hands on three successive possessions.

On the third, Smith powered in for a transition layup to give the Terps a 19-18 edge with 9:06 to go. Garrison then extended Maryland's lead to 22-18 with 8:33 left in the half with a three-pointer from the left wing. The Demon Deacons pulled even at 22-22 on a three-pointer by Justin Gray with 6:56 left.

Garrison nudged the Terps back in front with a free throw, and the lead would change hand three more times. First, Levy grabbed a loose ball in the lane and converted a 5-footer to give Wake Forest a 25-23 lead with 5:30 left.

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